Cup of Joe – February 24, 2023

“The Biden administration is considering releasing intelligence it believes shows that China is weighing whether to supply weapons to support Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The discussions on public disclosure come ahead of Friday’s United Nations Security Council meeting marking one year since Russia invaded Ukraine.”

Washington Post: A global divide on the Ukraine war is deepening.

New York Times: “On the surface, it looked like a reversion to the Cold War era. The reality was even more complicated.”

“It turns out we were completely unprepared. The army is a mess. Our industry is a mess. But it’s good that we found out about it this way, rather than when NATO invades us.”— Russian President Vladimir Putin, to friends, as quoted by the Financial Times.

Financial Times: “The decision to invade was taken after consulting only a tiny circle. The Russian leader has since become even more isolated.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) traveled to Kyiv Tuesday with a congressional delegation to see “first-hand” what is happening on the ground in Ukraine and conduct oversight to gain better insight on the Russia-Ukraine war, Fox News reports.

“Vladimir Putin loves a really long table. Images of his meetings are famous, with the Russian leader at one end and the person he is speaking to so far away that you wonder if it is hard for them to hear one another,” the BBC reports.

“It was not like that when he met China’s top foreign policy official, Wang Yi. There they were, sitting within handshake distance, with an oval-shaped table in the middle…”

“When the footage was released, it appeared to be a deliberately symbolic move to show that he felt safe enough to be that close to the representative of such an important friend.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s decision to grant the Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to thousands of hours of security footage from inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack was his latest move to appease the right wing of his party, this time by effectively outsourcing a bid to reinvestigate the riot to its favorite cable news commentator, who has circulated conspiracy theories about the assault,” the New York Times reports.

“The most conservative Republican members of Congress — many of whom have worked to downplay or deny the reality of the Jan. 6 attack — have been pushing Mr. McCarthy for weeks to release the video after he promised to do so during his campaign for speaker.”

“Mr. McCarthy has shown little appetite for the kind of aggressive public re-litigation of what happened that day that some of his colleagues have called for, but he is sensitive to the dangers of angering his hard-core base by seeming to drop or disregard the matter.”

The Hill: Schumer blasts McCarthy for giving Jan. 6 footage to Fox News.

“The forewoman of a special grand jury in Georgia may have complicated an investigation into efforts by former president Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election by speaking bluntly about its findings in interviews this week,” the Washington Post reports.

“Several legal experts said they were surprised and concerned by Kohrs’s unusually candid commentary, which included evaluation of witnesses, tidbits about jurors socializing with prosecutors and a stated hope that the investigation yields charges because of how much time she and others invested in the case.”

Donald Trump seized on the potential violations of grand jury secrecy in Georgia after the forewoman gave a series of media interviews:

“This Georgia case is ridiculous, a strictly political continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time. Now you have an extremely energetic young woman, the (get this!) ‘foreperson’ of the Racist D.A.’s Special Grand Jury, going around and doing a Media Tour revealing, incredibly, the Grand Jury’s inner workings & thoughts. This is not JUSTICE, this is an illegal Kangaroo Court.”

Just last week Trump touted the grand jury’s findings as “total exoneration.”

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) accused both President Biden and former president Donald Trump of putting the country at financial risk by swearing off making changes to Medicare and Social Security, the Washington Post reports.

Said Ryan: “Biden and Trump — and I lump them in the same sentence — Biden and Trump are doing the opposite of leadership. They’re trying to scare people, and they’re playing political demagoguery with one of the most important issues facing our country this century.”

“Rep. Jason Smith hasn’t been chair of the House Ways and Means Committee very long, but he’s already done something rare for a Republican: He’s struck fear into the heart of corporate tax lobbyists,” Politico reports.

“The Missouri lawmaker is making it clear he isn’t the sort of Chamber of Commerce Republican his side usually picks for this job. He is going out of his way to let corporate America know he’s not terribly concerned with its problems, even if its taxes are going up substantially, while promising a lot more scrutiny of its relations with China.”

“The White House is firing back at Republicans following the toxic East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, blaming the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress for undoing Obama-era rail safety measures designed to avert such disasters,” USA Today reports.

“The aggressive rebuttal came as former President Donald Trump visited East Palestine on Wednesday and Republicans increasingly attack the Biden administration, especially Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for its response to the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that unleased toxic chemicals.”

New York Times: “It was evocative of the former president’s time in office: an at-times meandering address, punctated by self-promotion — his brand-name Trump Water — and an undercurrent of grievance…. He still appeared to struggle with showing empathy in public.”

“The Alaska House of Representatives voted almost unanimously Wednesday to reprimand Rep. David Eastman (R) for speculating the state could financially benefit if child abuse victims died of their abuse,” Alaska Public Media reports.

“The House’s 35-1 vote to censure Eastman — the lone vote against the measure came from Eastman himself — marks the third time the controversial Wasilla Republican has been reprimanded by the House. The House previously censured him in 2017. One year later, the House Ethics Committee found he violated state ethics law.”

“A censure vote like Wednesday’s has no consequences other than putting a formal statement of disapproval or reprimand on the record.”

“Governors supporting abortion rights are forming a new coalition aimed at expanding and protecting access to the procedure,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Reproductive Freedom Alliance will create a more formal structure for governors to regularly collaborate on work to shore up abortion rights, such as administrative actions, budgetary moves and bills moving through state legislatures. It’s also aimed at allowing for a more coordinated response to major decisions with a nationwide impact, such as the lawsuit looming in Texas that could revoke the decades-old government approval of a key abortion drug.”

“Former President Donald Trump, who throughout his business career had a reputation for not paying lawyers, spent roughly $10 million from his political action committee on his own legal fees last year, federal election filings show,” the New York Times reports.

“The money that went to Mr. Trump’s legal bills was part of more than $16 million that Mr. Trump’s PAC, Save America, spent for legal-related payments in 2021 and 2022.”

“Some of the $16 million appears to have been for lawyers representing witnesses in investigations related to Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power. But the majority of it — about $10 million — went to firms directly representing Mr. Trump in a string of investigations and lawsuits, including some related to his company, the filings showed.”

Politico: “All bring particular skills suited to Biden’s desire for experienced hands to help steer the economy away from a possible recession, according to half a dozen White House advisers and people close to the president who were granted anonymity to talk about personnel matters. Brainard and Bernstein also have credibility on the left at a time when the president may be forced to make some tough tradeoffs with House Republicans.”

“Biden, who consistently gets dismal marks from the public on his handling of the economy, has voiced frustration to his team that they haven’t done enough to convey the administration’s accomplishments, particularly on cable news, which he regularly watches. He’s counting on the new aides to help resolve that issue.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who chairs the new House committee on China, has returned from a secret trip to Taiwan and told the Washington Post that the war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call for the island to stockpile more weapons.

Said Gallgher: “That was the biggest thing we heard from every major Taiwanese leader — concerns over delays… That’s troubling the Taiwanese, and I think that’s unacceptable.”

“Taiwan’s foreign minister traveled to the U.S. this week for an unusual high-level meeting with senior American officials in the Washington area,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The U.S. is markedly increasing the number of troops deployed to Taiwan, more than quadrupling the current number to bolster a training program for the island’s military amid a rising threat from China,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The U.S. plans to deploy between 100 and 200 troops to the island in the coming months, up from roughly 30 there a year ago, according to U.S. officials. The larger force will expand a training program the Pentagon has taken pains not to publicize as the U.S. works to provide Taipei with the capabilities it needs to defend itself without provoking Beijing.”

“The death toll from the massive earthquake that hit parts of Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6 continues to rise as more bodies are retrieved from the rubble of demolished buildings,” the AP reports.

“A magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck the already battered province of Hatay this week damaged or demolished more buildings, compounding the devastation.”

“Former President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have been subpoenaed by the special counsel to testify before a federal grand jury about Mr. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election and his role in a pro-Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” the New York Times reports.

“The decision by the special counsel, Jack Smith, to subpoena Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner underscores how deeply into Mr. Trump’s inner circle Mr. Smith is reaching, and is the latest sign that no potential high-level witness is off limits.”

“The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that it is generally illegal for companies to offer severance agreements that prohibit workers from making potentially disparaging statements about the employer or from disclosing details of the agreement,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: “Out of roughly 140 lawyers in the White House, approximately 36 hold degrees from Yale Law School, more than any other law school… That figure doesn’t include the dozens of Yale Law graduates who have been appointed to agency positions throughout the Biden administration.”

“The density of Yale lawyers on the White House campus has become a bit of a joke among some staffers who say it’s hard to go into a room without bumping into at least one alumni. Yale Law degrees are so prevalent that the shared New Haven experience has also been a way to connect with colleagues, especially earlier in the administration when Covid kept people from working in-person and many staffers were trying to get to know each other over Zoom.”

The Spectator: “It’s by now well-established that Fox News, the American media behemoth, is no longer on the Trump Train. Trumpworld’s union with Foxworld was never altogether easy and, ever since that fateful election in November 2020, it has fallen apart. Trumpists despise Fox for, as many see it, helping Joe Biden steal the election. And the top brass at Fox News have sought to distance themselves from the Trump movement and what they regard as its increasingly toxic politics. Rupert Murdoch has had enough of the Orange One, by all accounts.”

“What hasn’t been made entirely clear is the extent of the break-up. One senior Fox figure has let slip, however, that Donald Trump is effectively ‘banned’ from appearing on Fox News at present. He hasn’t been seen on the main channel since he declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential in November and other Fox sources have confirmed that there’s a reason Donald is not appearing on their network.”

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

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