Cup of Joe – April 9, 2023

“If Republicans step back and look beyond the legal and social-media spectacle of Donald J. Trump, they’ll see screaming political sirens everywhere they gaze,” Axios reports.

“The GOP’s political trouble has been unfolding slowly but unmistakably, starting even before Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in 2020.”

Charlie Sykes: “By expelling the two Democrats, the Republican super majority accomplished the exact opposite of what they intended: As members of the minority party in the lower House of Tennessee’s undistinguished legislature, the three Democrats —State Reps. Justin Jones, Justin J. Pearson, and Gloria Johnson – had been obscure, local political players.”

“By martyring them, the GOP has turned them into national stars. All three are impressive and eloquent, and they are about to be a ubiquitous presence on television.”

“So instead of disgracing or silencing them, the GOP’s naked retaliation amplified their message beyond anything the three could have done themselves.”

Tennessee House Republicans used their “supermajority” yesterday to expel two Democrats for engaging in a protest against a school shooting 10 days ago. The House failed by one vote to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to expel a third lawmaker. While the two lawmakers expelled were both Black men and the one not expelled was White, racism is not the most important takeaway in this story. And neither is the fact that the demonstration was about gun violence in a state where the legislature has repeatedly made it wildly easier to get guns.

Instead, the important lesson from this spectacle is to show how a supermajority might deploy its power in our highly partisan times. It’s true that the two expelled Democrats violated the rules of the House during their demonstration. But they did not commit crimes or immoral acts, which have been the commonly accepted grounds for expulsion.

As Jeff Greenfield notes: “The legislature has never imposed before so severe a penalty for rules violations, and over the past few years, a number of legislators have kept their posts even after being charged with serious sexual misconduct.”

Nonetheless, the response from the GOP supermajority was the most extreme possible. And it sets an example for other state legislatures around the country.

In Wisconsin, while Democrats were celebrating their huge victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, voters also elected Dan Knodl (R) to the state senate in a special election, which gave Republicans a supermajority. That would theoretically allow Republicans to impeach key officials — including the liberal judge, Janet Protasiewicz, that was just elected statewide. This isn’t just speculation. Just a few weeks ago, Knodl said he would “certainly consider” impeaching Protasiewicz if he won. In 2018, Wisconsin Republicans moved to strip powers from their newly-elected Democratic governor and attorney general.

And just this week Republicans in North Carolina gained a supermajority due to a party switch. Republicans there also haven’t been shy about trying to take away powers from their Democratic governor. What we saw last night in Nashville could just be the beginning of Republican supermajorities around the country wielding their power in the most extreme ways possible.

Politico: “The Donald Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus are openly uniting in favor of repealing two decades-old war authorizations in Iraq. That’s on top of growing agreement between the two groups’ members in favor of revamping government surveillance powers and curbing defense spending.”

Said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX): “Sometimes the political spectrum is more of a circle than a line. At some point, you might have sometimes-differing motives or different ranges, but you end up [at] the same conclusion, and that’s okay.”

“House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has teased to television audiences over the past month that four different people have appeared before committee investigators to provide information regarding his inquiry into whether President Biden and members of his family were involved in an influence-peddling scheme,” the Washington Post reports.

“But Comer’s media tour has confounded his Democratic counterparts on the committee. After inquiring with Comer’s staff about the reported new witnesses, they were assured that Comer’s statements ‘in fact referred only to two individuals’ and ‘no new witness information … had actually been provided.’”

“Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of Donald Trump’s fiercest allies in Congress, has issued a subpoena for a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, escalating the House GOP’s attacks on a local jurisdiction as Republicans rally to aid the former president and defendant,” the Washington Post reports.

“The White House is opening a new line of attack on Republicans — as former President Donald Trump demands his party defund federal law enforcement — by arguing that threatening firearm-control agencies would help arm Mexican drug cartels that traffic fentanyl into the country,” NBC News reports.

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a perennial target of gun rights supporters, risks a funding reduction or even outright elimination as House Republicans look for places to cut spending in government funding negotiations.”

Ohio state Rep. Dave Dobos (R) “falsely claimed to have graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the prestigious university, and he has stepped down from a House committee leadership post after that revelation,”  the AP reports.

Police arrested the former Scottish National Party chief executive Peter Murrell, the husband of former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, over the misuse of campaign funds, the BBC reports. The Herald Scotland notes police were pictured with shovels and a tarpaulin while searching the couple’s backyard yesterday.

Peter Wehner: “I recently wrote that Trump was behaving like a mob boss. That comparison turns out to have been insulting to mob bosses everywhere.”

“Andrew Weissmann, a former lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s office, was asked on MSNBC about Trump’s attack on Judge Merchan and his family. Noting that he had prosecuted Mafia cases in the past, Weissmann said, ‘You do not have this behavior from a mob boss. There is a rule in organized crime. You do not do this with respect to prosecutors. You don’t do this with respect to the judge. You certainly don’t go after their families. It’s bad business to do that.’”

“Leave it to Donald Trump to go where Mafia dons will not.”

Punchbowl News: “There are 18 House Republicans who represent districts President Joe Biden won in 2020. And they’re going to have trouble creating separation between themselves and former President Donald Trump following his felony indictment in New York City for allegedly falsifying business records.”

“We wondered how those 18 members would reply to Trump’s Wednesday morning Truth Social post, where he called on Hill Republicans to ‘defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses.’”

“The answer – just three would go on the record distancing themselves from Trump’s screed.”

“A nearly two-year investigation into allegations of misconduct by the Department of Homeland Security’s chief watchdog expanded this week to include his role in missing Secret Service text messages from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

“On Monday, investigators demanded records related to the deleted texts from the Office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, an appointee of President Donald Trump whose office shut down an inquiry into the Secret Service messages last year amid the House’s probe of the insurrection.”

“Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was in a Milan hospital’s intensive care ward Wednesday after suffering heart problems, European news agencies said, citing unnamed sources close to the 86-year-old former politician,” CBS News reports.

“The capacity to burn coal for power went up in 2022 despite global promises to phase down the fuel that’s the biggest source of planet-warming gases in the atmosphere,” the AP reports.

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

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