Cup of Joe – December 29, 2022

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified to the January 6 Committee that then-chief of staff Mark Meadows regularly burned documents during the transition period after the November 2020 election, CNN reports.

She also described how Meadows occasionally told staffers to keep some Oval Office meetings “close hold” and potentially omitted from official records.

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released on Tuesday 18 additional transcripts that provided more details about how former President Donald Trump considered ‘blanket pardons’ for those charged in connection with the Capitol riot, and how several of his top political allies pushed unsuccessfully to be included in such pardons,” the New York Times reports.

“The transcripts, which come from the committee’s trove of hundreds of interviews, build on a growing body of evidence about the extent to which many in Mr. Trump’s orbit, including rioters, White House staffers, Republican members of Congress and some of the president’s own lawyers were seeking pardons after the events of Jan. 6, 2021.”

“Rudy Giuliani was in daily contact with President Donald Trump between Nov. 5, 2020 and Jan. 15, 2021, as much as 10 times a day,” Bloomberg reports.

Testified former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik: “The mayor spoke to the president daily, I don’t know, sometimes three times, sometimes 10 times in a day, basically outlining findings, possible litigation and so forth.”

“The House sergeant at arms, who was head of the D.C. National Guard during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, told the Jan. 6 committee that the law enforcement response would have looked much different had the rioters been Black Americans,” NBC News reports.

Said William Walker: “I think it would have been a vastly different response if those were African Americans trying to breach the Capitol. As a career law enforcement officer, part-time soldier, last 5 years full but, but a law enforcement officer my entire career, the law enforcement response would have been different.”

Indeed.  Every single one of them would have been killed.

“Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he briefly talked about using the 25th Amendment to remove former President Trump from power during a discussion with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot,” The Hill reports.

“The Jan. 6 select committee’s finding that Donald Trump lured followers to storm the Capitol does not absolve them of legal responsibility for their actions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, the first opinion to cite the congressional panel’s criminal referrals of the former president,” Politico reports.

“U.S. District Court Judge John Bates cited the select committee’s report and criminal referrals to swat down a Jan. 6 defendant’s claim that he believed Trump had authorized him and other rioters to enter the Capitol when he urged the crowd to march down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) told Semafor that he worked in the so-called “capital introduction” industry, which typically brings together investors and hedge funds.

“He eventually left that job for Harbor City Capital, a Florida firm the Securities and Exchange Commission accused in April 2021 of running a $17 million Ponzi scheme. Santos was not charged in the fraud, and he says he departed in March, shortly before the company ran into legal trouble, in order to strike out on his own. He incorporated Devolder in May, a few weeks after the S.E.C. filed suit against Harbor City.”

“Santos said that Devolder was also in the capital introduction business, including ‘deal building’ and ‘specialty consulting’ for ‘high net worth individuals.’”

The Hill: “Sizable personal loans from Santos to his campaign alongside a sharp jump in his reported personal wealth have led to questions about how he got his money.”

Lying to voters may not be a crime, but lying on federal election filings is.

David Corn notes that Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY), a former call center operator, isn’t giving a consistent story about how he built a multi-million dollar fortune in just two years.

“As the Santos story moves forward, it’s the money that may matter the most. It shouldn’t be hard for him to demonstrate what Devolder did, what he earned, and how he was able to pour $700,000 in his own money into his 2022 campaign. He could—and probably should—release his tax returns. That’s not a common practice for members of Congress. But Santos warrants such scrutiny.”

The Daily Beast reports that a Russian oligarch’s cousin gave at least $56,100 to Santos.

“Anne Donnelly, the Republican district attorney for Nassau County, has opened an investigation into GOP Congressman-elect George Santos after he admitted to lying about his work experience and educational background,” Newsday reports.

Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, filling in as guest host for Tucker Carlson last night, grilled Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) saying his “blatant lies” draw into question “how your constituents and the American people can believe anything you may say on the floor of the House.”

Asked Gabbard: “Do you have no shame?”

She added: “It’s hard to imagine how they could possibly trust your explanations when you’re not really even willing to admit the depth of your deception to them.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) attacked Tulsi Gabbard while calling on Republicans to give Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) a chance.  Said Greene: “I think we Republicans should give George Santos a chance and see how he legislates and votes, not treat him the same as the left is.  She then praised him for “being honest with his district now.”

“House Republican leaders were silent on Tuesday after Representative-elect George Santos admitted to a laundry list of falsehoods about his background but still vowed to be seated in Congress,” the New York Times reports.

“The muted response from party leaders suggested that so far they were prepared to mete out little, if any, punishment to an incoming lawmaker who, while deceiving voters, flipped an open seat formerly held by a Democrat and helped Republicans secure their razor-thin House majority.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition said Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) “deceived” the organization and “misrepresented” his Jewish heritage, adding the incoming lawmaker is no longer welcome at its events, The Hill reports.

Aaron Blake: The scale of George Santos’s deceit — and the remaining questions.

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY), “who reportedly lied about his Jewish heritage and has admitted he fabricated key details of his resume, said in an interview Monday evening that he never claimed to be Jewish,” the Forward reports.

Said Santos “I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”

“However, in a position paper shared with Jewish and pro-Israel leaders during the campaign and obtained by the Forward, Santos called himself ‘a proud American Jew.’”

Charlie Sykes: “He just made shit up out of whole cloth. He did not place doodads on his resume: He lied about his schooling, his degrees, his background, his criminal history, his employment, and about the non-existent properties he claimed to own. He lied that his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. He lied about his Jew-ishness and about his grandparents escaping the Holocaust. He used fake quotes from Winston Churchill. He lied about his money, probably lied on financial disclosure forms (which is actually a crime), and lied about his lying.”

“And then, having constructed this Babel of Fabulism, he turned to the playbook of disingenuous non-apologies.”

The Supreme Court ordered the Biden administration to keep the U.S. immigration limits that were imposed at beginning of Covid-19 pandemic in place indefinitely, the AP reports.

“Under the restrictions, officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States 2.5 million times and turned away most people who requested asylum at the border on grounds of preventing the spread of Covid-19. The restrictions are often referred to as Title 42 in reference to a 1944 public health law.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch joining the three more liberal Justices in dissent in a 5-4 ruling.

New York Times: “For generations, Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, saw only a trickle of its people migrate northward. But soaring inflation, declining wages and the erosion of democracy under an increasingly authoritarian government have drastically shifted the calculus.”

“Now, for the first time in Nicaragua’s history, the small nation of 6.5 million is a major contributor to the mass of people trekking to the U.S. southern border, having been displaced by violence, repression and poverty.”

“While attention has focused this year on the record numbers of Venezuelans and Cubans pouring into the United States, this less-noted but remarkable surge of Nicaraguans is also adding to the migration crisis in a big way, sending money back to their families and, inadvertently, providing an economic lifeline to a government under sanctions from the United States.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will take down a barrier of double-stacked shipping containers along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border after reaching an agreement with the federal government, Axios reports.

The U.S. will require travelers from China to submit a negative Covid-19 test beginning Jan. 5, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Politico: “The move reflects the Biden administration’s alarm about the potential spillover of new Covid variants linked to soaring Covid infections in China. The Chinese government ended its draconian Covid-zero policy — hinged to mass testing, tracing and lockdowns — on Dec. 7 following mass protests in November fueled by anger about the strategy.”

“Nearly half of the passengers on two recent flights from China to Milan tested positive for Covid-19,” The Hill reports.

Nikkea Asia Review: “Japan will require all travelers from China to be tested upon arrival from Friday. If a person tests positive, a seven-day quarantine will be needed at a designated facility.”

“China’s elites are stockpiling supplies of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral drug, and giving it away to curry favour with business associates as an unprecedented Covid wave sweeps the country, leaving hospitals stripped of resources and ordinary people struggling to access medication,” the Financial Times reports.

“China will reopen borders and abandon quarantine after it downgrades its treatment of Covid-19 on January 8,” the South China Morning Post reports. “The decision is the country’s last step in shedding three years of zero-Covid and pivoting to living with the virus.”

“Since China abandoned its restrictive ‘zero Covid’ policy about two weeks ago, the intensity and magnitude of the country’s first nationwide outbreak has remained largely a mystery,” the New York Times reports.

“With the country ending mass testing, case counts are less useful. The government has a narrow definition of which deaths should count as caused by Covid. Anecdotal evidence, like social media postings of hospital morgues overcrowded with body bags, is quickly taken down by censors.”

“Now, a picture is emerging of the virus spreading like wildfire.”

“Moments after China said it would reopen its borders to international travel for the first time in almost three years, sales of air tickets out of the country soared, as people leapt at the chance to put the stifling restrictions of zero-Covid behind them,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Top of the getaway wish list were regional destinations a short hop away, with Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan favorite choices.”

New York Times: “China’s hospitals were already overcrowded, underfunded and inadequately staffed in the best of times. But now with Covid spreading freely for the first time in China, the medical system is being pushed to its limits.”

“A man who prosecutors said had planned to travel from Delaware to Michigan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home and possibly assassinate her was sentenced on Wednesday to 19 years and seven months in prison, less than the life term that prosecutors requested,” the New York Times reports.

“The man, Barry Croft, a truck driver who had spoken of wanting to foment civil war and had traveled repeatedly to the Midwest for training and planning sessions in the months before his arrest, was the last of the men convicted in federal court to learn his prison term.”

The far-right domestic terrorist leader who was the lead organizer of the plot to kidnap and assassinate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been sentenced to just under 20 years in prison for his role in the plot. Barry Croft, of Delaware, who said he wanted to foment a civil war in the US was, according to the government, the “spiritual leader” of the group, much “some sheikh in ISIS might be.”

“More than two years after his arrest, Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison for plotting the kidnap of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in what the government has described as one of the biggest domestic terrorism cases in recent American history,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

“The government had sought a life sentence for Fox, arguing he was part of a violent extremism movement that sought not only to kidnap the governor, but to spark a civil uprising.”

“But the judge gave Fox the mercy he was looking for as his lawyer, Christopher Gibbons, had long argued against a life sentence, maintaining: Fox was a follower, not a leader, and looked up to FBI informants and undercover agents who had accompanied Fox and others during training sessions and reconnaissance of the governor’s vacation home near Traverse City.”

“President Joe Biden will announce six new judicial nominees in his final batch of selections in 2022, as it looks to two more years of reshaping the federal courts under an expanded Democratic Senate majority,” NBC News reports.

“President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are transforming the federal courts at a blistering pace and creating an unrivaled legacy of diversity that will redefine the federal bench for a generation,” Bloomberg Law reports.

“Of the 97 judges confirmed by the Senate in the last two years, three quarters of them are women, and nearly half of the appointees — including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson — are women of color.”

Mother Jones: “In tying himself most recently to Trump—a man accused of sexual assault by 19 women, and who bragged about grabbing women ‘by the pussy’—Fuentes is advancing one of his latest strategies for cultivating followers: making overtures to men who feel aggrieved by women.”

“Over the past year, Fuentes has made a point of speaking directly to these men—many of whom identify as “incels”—in numerous appearances on his nightly livestream, far-right podcasts, and Telegram. Historically, incels defined themselves as ‘involuntary celibate,’ but the term has become inextricably associated with misogynist incels, men who blame women for their problems and believe women owe them sex.”

Said Fuentes: “I’m an incel, I’m a proud incel.”

“House Democrats on Thursday elected Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) as ranking member on the House Oversight Committee,” Axios reports.

“The job comes with a hefty mandate: leading the defense against a battery of planned Republican investigations into the Biden administration on everything from the border to Afghanistan to Hunter Biden.”

Raskin announced that he has been diagnosed with a “serious but curable form of cancer.” He added: “I expect to be able to work through this period but have been cautioned by my doctors to reduce unnecessary exposure to avoid Covid-19, the flu and other viruses.”

Life expectancy in the United States fell for the second year running in 2021, government figures show, declining all the way to its lowest level since 1996, the Washington Post reports.

An ABC News analysis of the 238 people “who were pardoned or had their sentences commuted during the Trump administration found at least ten who have since faced legal scrutiny — either because they are under investigation, are charged with a crime, or are already convicted.”

“An internal investigation by ByteDance, the parent company of video-sharing platform TikTok, found that employees tracked multiple journalists covering the company, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they had been in the same locales as ByteDance employees,” Forbes reports.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) “banned the use of TikTok on the state-issued devices of government workers under her control on Wednesday, becoming one of the first Democratic governors to restrict the popular social media app,” the AP reports.

“The Afghan government on Saturday barred women from working in local and international humanitarian organizations, officials said, a move that threatens billions of dollars of aid that has kept Afghanistan from the brink of starvation amid an economic collapse,” the New York Times reports.

“The ban is the latest blow to women’s rights under a Taliban administration that appears to value eradicating women from public life over keeping the country from plunging further into a dire humanitarian catastrophe that risks the lives of millions of Afghans.”

CNN: “Shahid Alikhani square is a nondescript part of the historic Iranian city of Isfahan… But now it has become a place of pilgrimage for supporters of the high-profile Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani who fear the young man could be executed in the square, where an execution platform has been installed.”

“China sent a record number of military aircraft to menace self-ruled Taiwan in a large show of force to the Biden administration, signaling that Beijing wants to maintain pressure on Taiwan even as some tensions between the superpowers are easing,” the New York Times reports.

“The swarm of Chinese fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and drones that buzzed the airspace near Taiwan in the 24-hour period leading to Monday morning demonstrated Beijing’s appetite for confrontation with the United States over Taiwan, the island democracy China claims as its territory.”

“The military activity — which, according to Taiwan, included at least 71 Chinese aircraft — came days after President Biden’s latest move to expand American support for the island. Beijing has denounced the United States’ effort as an attempt to contain China and interfere in its domestic affairs.”

Politico: “The U.S. has pledged to deploy so much firepower to the Indo-Pacific in 2023 that China won’t even consider invading Taiwan. Lawmakers and allies say it’s already too late.”

South Korean military officials say North Korea has flown five drones across their mutual border, the BBC reports.

“South Korea’s military apologized for failing to shoot down North Korean drones that flew across the border, an incident that raised concerns about South Korea’s defenses amid the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A top aide to Gov. Ron DeSantis used a private email address with the alias ‘Clarice Starling’ — a reference to the Hannibal Lecter serial killer novels — to help his former client win a state contract to operate Florida’s controversial migrant flight program,” the Miami Herald reports.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) petition for a grand jury investigation into COVID-19 vaccines, in which he decries the ongoing vaccine campaign as ‘propaganda’ by the Biden administration, is drawing fierce criticism from health experts,” The Hill reports.

“Physicians and public health experts say his request betrays decades of established procedure designed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and only serves to stoke further immunization fears.”

“Several U.S. Jewish leaders during a meeting with Israeli officials earlier this month warned that racist and extremist moves by the new Israeli government could seriously hamper support for Israel among Jews in the U.S.,” Axios reports.

Politico: “National [Monkeypox] case counts have plunged from an average of more than 450 a day to just five. The persistent vaccine shortages that drove fears of another entrenched epidemic have largely abated.”

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

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