Cup of Joe – February 1, 2023

CNN: “McCarthy is set to meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday in a face-to-face that has already been subject to positioning and political messaging, moves that both sides hope will shape the fight to raise the debt limit over the next few months. White House officials have been steadfast that there will be no negotiations on the matter while House Republicans have framed Wednesday’s meeting as the beginning of debt ceiling talks.”

“Biden, asked by CNN what his message to McCarthy would be in that meeting, said it would be ‘show me your budget and I’ll show you mine.’”

“The statement carried echoes of the push by White House officials and congressional Democrats to force Republicans to put a plan on the table – even as they insist there will be no negotiations on the matter.”

“Washington’s debt limit drama has Wall Street betting that the United States will employ a fallback option to ensure it can make good on payments to its lenders even if Congress doesn’t raise the nation’s borrowing limit before America runs out of cash,” the New York Times reports.

“But that untested idea has significant flaws and has been ruled out by the Biden administration, which could make it less of a bulwark against disaster than many investors and politicians are counting on.”

Semafor: Republicans have a plan B if the U.S. breaches the debt ceiling. It’d still be a disaster.

“The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” the New York Times reports.

“The grand jury was recently impaneled, and witness testimony will soon begin, a clear signal that the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

“On Monday, one of the witnesses was seen with his lawyer entering the building in Lower Manhattan where the grand jury is sitting. The witness, David Pecker, is the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal with the porn star, Stormy Daniels.”

Donald Trump lambasted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as a “radical” prosecutor on Monday for examining alleged “hush money” payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, the Daily Mail reports.

“It comes after the New York Times reported a grand jury is set to hear witness testimony this week about the former president’s alleged role in the payments, made to keep Daniels quiet during his 2016 campaign. She claims to have slept with him in 2006.”

“But Trump denied the affair in a forceful message on his Truth Social app and derided Daniels as ‘Horseface.’”

“The expanding legal threats facing former President Donald Trump are testing as never before his decades-old playbook for fending off prosecutors, regulators and other accusers and foes, with his trademark mix of defiance, counterattacks, bluffs and delays encountering a series of setbacks,” the New York Times reports.

“In other legal maneuvering and in seeking to shape public opinion about cases involving him, Mr. Trump has experienced regular reversals in court in recent months even as he begins his campaign for another term in the White House.”

“Former President Donald Trump is suing journalist Bob Woodward for releasing recordings of interviews that he gave to the journalist in 2019 and 2020, claiming he never agreed to those tapes being shared with the public,” Bloomberg reports.

“In a lawsuit filed Monday against Woodward, Simon & Schuster Inc., and the publisher’s parent company Paramount Global, Trump claimed that although he had given Woodward consent to record their conversations ‘for the sole purpose of a book,’ that didn’t extend to packaging those recordings as an audiobook.”

Washington Post: “After the release of a video on Friday showing Memphis police officers fatally beating Tyre Nichols, 29, earlier this month, there were hopes that Congress might once again begin negotiating how to reform policing practices, as anger grew over the death of another Black man following a violent encounter with local law enforcement.”

“But by Monday, any optimism for a big legislative deal seemed to have been squashed.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) spoke for nearly everyone when he said on Meet the Press it was “just difficult to watch.” He added: “What strikes me is just the lack of respect for human life… You know, they, this man was handcuffed. They continue to beat him.”

But then Jordan said something that struck me as just terribly wrong: “I don’t know that there’s any law that can stop that evil that we saw.” If there’s any use for government at all, shouldn’t it be to stop behavior that everyone agrees is wrong?

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in 1967: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

Embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) told House Republicans in a closed meeting today that he would recuse himself from sitting on committees, Punchbowl News reports.

Miami Herald review of Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) campaign spending “in the region raises questions about some of his campaign reports, and about what, exactly, he did here — aside from holding a fundraiser on a yacht in Fort Lauderdale, which event organizers say did happen.”

“The managing partner of a diner where the campaign reported spending more than $200 over back-to-back days said he had no receipts matching items on the campaign reports.”

“A $199.99 stay at the high-end W South Beach hotel — where room rates are typically more than $700 per night — was flagged by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center in a wide-ranging complaint with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this month as improbable.”

“Even his payments at a public beachside parking lot on Miami Beach, where the campaign listed payments as small as $3 and as big as $100, were deemed puzzling by the city’s parking department.”

“The Biden Justice Department has its hands full with a slew of House GOP investigations. What they probably didn’t expect was the onslaught coming from Senate Democrats, too,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The administration’s refusal to share crucial information about the classified documents recovered from the homes of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence has ignited bipartisan outrage from the upper chamber, where top Democrats are threatening extreme measures to force compliance.”

Margaret Sullivan: The media is blowing Biden’s documents ‘scandal’ out of proportion.

“Two people who found two classified documents in a Florida storage facility for Donald Trump have testified before a federal grand jury in Washington that’s looking at the former president’s handling of national security records at his Mar-a-Lago residence,” CNN reports.

“The two individuals who were hired to search four of Trump’s properties last fall were each interviewed for about three hours in separate appearances last week.”

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R) unveiled a bill removing the state’s requirements for a permit and training to carry concealed guns, an idea endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The legislation would eliminate the need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon as well as the required weapons training that goes with it.

“Students arrived in some Florida public school classrooms this month to find their teachers’ bookshelves wrapped in paper — or entirely barren of books — after district officials launched a review of the texts’ appropriateness under a new state law,” the Washington Post reports.

“School officials in at least two counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers this month to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries.”

Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil, has applied for a six-month visitor visa to remain in the U.S. as his legal standing in his home country grows perilous, the Financial Times reports.

As the Washington Post notes, Bolsonarro really doesn’t want to go to jail.

“After a midterm election year in which statewide races were almost entirely wrapped up in national issues — abortion and democracy — the nation’s newly elected governors are showing their ambitions with a mix of virtue-signaling on national issues, currying favor with their political bases and, for some, reaching out to broader constituencies,” the New York Times reports.

“With the direct responsibility of running their states, governors must also quickly produce detailed budgets that put their priorities in full view. Elected last year, nine new governors have been busy in their first weeks in office.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pledged last night to “get the job done” and remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But it’s not clear he’ll be able to do it. If all House Democrats vote to defend Omar, as expected, then McCarthy can only lose four Republican votes.

Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN) have all vowed to oppose Omar being kicked off the committee. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) have said they are undecided.  Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) is at his home in Florida recovering from a serious fall off a ladder.

And Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — sensing a chance for the spotlight and to force McCarthy to beg for his vote once again — said last night on Newsmax that he’s also “undecided.”

He noted he supported Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) removing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the Intelligence Committee.

Said Gaetz: “It’s one thing to do dangerous things to the country with intelligence, it’s quite another to say, ‘I don’t like your viewpoint and thus I want to remove you. I don’t support that.”

“The United States will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine — at least not now,” Politico reports.

“Asked by a reporter outside the White House Monday if the U.S. would transfer the warplanes that Kyiv is pushing hard to receive, President Joe Biden responded: ‘No.’”

“The short remark is likely to send shockwaves across the Atlantic, following days of seeming momentum toward sending the fighter jets eastward. It could also sour relations with Kyiv when officials there were already feeling positive about a coordinated U.S.-German decision last week to send main battle tanks to the front lines.”

“Exxon Mobil rocketed to its highest-ever annual profit last year, riding surging oil prices to resurrect its status as one of America’s most profitable companies and erase billions of dollars of losses incurred during the pandemic,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “The largest U.S. oil company turned in record annual earnings of $55.7 billion for 2022 in its quarterly earnings Tuesday, outpacing big banks, tech giants and vaccine makers.”

 “Former President Donald Trump and his allies have been put on notice by a prosecutor, but the warning didn’t come from anyone at the Justice Department,” the AP reports.

“It was from a Georgia prosecutor who indicated she was likely to seek criminal charges soon in a two-year election subversion probe. In trying to block the release of a special grand jury’s report, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis argued in court last week that decisions in the case were ‘imminent’ and that the report’s publication could jeopardize the rights of ‘future defendants.’”

 “In just over one month, the Conservative Political Action Coalition is set to hold a large gathering of influential Republicans at its annual conference near Washington, DC,” Insider reports.

“Dozens of GOP members of Congress are likely to attend, if previous years offer any indication, and the conference’s chief organizer — American Conservative Union Chair Matt Schlapp — has already begun to roll out scheduled speakers.”

“That’s despite Schlapp being the subject of a $9.4 million lawsuit: a man who worked as a mid-level staffer on Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign has accused Schlapp of sexually assaulting him after a night of drinking in October.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “has long made no secret that he thinks drug companies and health insurers are ripping off Americans. But now he’s chairman of the Senate health committee,” Axios reports.

“Sanders has signaled an early focus of the committee’s work will be drug prices, and manufacturers are bracing for some contentious hearings.”

British prime minister Rishi Sunak has sacked Nadhim Zahawi, chairman of the Tory Party, for serious breaches of the ministerial code after an investigation found he failed to be honest and open about his tax affairs, the Times of London reports.

A four-star Air Force general sent a memo on Friday to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head,” NBC News reports.

Said Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command: “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025.”

“The Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Sunday he agreed with a statement that suggested the U.S. could be at war with China in 2025 — but the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee pushed back,” Politico reports.  Said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): “I hope he’s wrong as well. I think he’s right, though, unfortunately.”

“Weapons left behind by U.S. forces during the withdrawal from Afghanistan are surfacing in another conflict, further arming militants in the disputed South Asian region of Kashmir in what experts say could be just the start of the weapons’ global journey,” NBC News reports.

“A drone attack on an Iranian military facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan on Saturday was the work of the Mossad, Israel’s premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident,” the New York Times reports.

“The facility’s purpose was not clear, and neither was how much damage the strike caused. But Isfahan is a major center of missile production, research and development for Iran, including the assembly of many of its Shahab medium-range missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond.”

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

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