Cup of Joe – April 10, 2023

The President and First Lady will host the 145th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday morning. The President will then travel to Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and will finish out the week in the Republic of Ireland.

The Senate and House are out until April 17.

On Friday, Vice President Harris will deliver remarks at the National Action Network Annual Convention in New York.

On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal will address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S.-Ukraine Partnership Forum.

Expelled Tennessee state representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson could be returned to their seats by their counties’ legislatures, which have the authority to appoint legislators until special elections can be held.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are holding their spring meeting all week in Washington.

Nikki Haley will campaign in Iowa, where she plans to launch her “Women for Nikki” coalition.

On Thursday, Vivek Ramaswamy will address New Hampshire state Senate Republicans before embarking on a four-day, 10-county campaign tour.

Marianne Williamson will speak at the Yale Political Union on “Spirituality and Politics” on Tuesday before returning to the campaign trail in New Hampshire.

“Tennessee Republicans’ dramatic expulsion of two Democrats who agitated for gun control in the state Capitol after a mass killing is the latest move by Republican state leaders around the country to stifle dissent and expand their power base, free speech experts say,” the Washington Post reports.

“In Montana, Texas, Florida and elsewhere, Republicans have moved in other ways to silence opposition in recent months, actions that might ultimately erode the country’s democratic ideals, they said.”

“Expelled by their Republican colleagues for an act of protest, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were no longer members of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Friday. They could not advocate for their constituents in Nashville and Memphis, take to the floor again to push for gun control legislation or even access the building after hours,” the New York Times reports.

“But instead of sidelining the Democratic lawmakers, the expulsions have sparked outrage and galvanized national support within their party, and the two young Black lawmakers are poised to return to the state legislature — as soon as next week — with a platform and profile far surpassing what they had just days ago.”

Tennessean: Tennessee Democrats take full advantage of national spotlight.

“The Shelby County Commission could consider reappointing Justin Pearson to his seat in the Tennessee statehouse,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

“Pearson was expelled Thursday along with fellow Democrat Justin Jones after they interrupted a floor session and used a bullhorn to lead chants for gun control. Democrat Gloria Johnson survived Thursday’s expulsion vote in the House.”

“Vacancies can be filled on an interim basis by the county legislative body until a legislator is elected in a special election.”

“Justin Jones, one of the Democratic Tennessee lawmakers expelled from the legislature on Thursday, vowed to attempt to return to his post,” Politico reports.

Said Jones: “This extreme tactic to expel us and try to humiliate us has only put a spotlight of the world on Tennessee, and so I will go back because… it’s worth whatever sacrifice that we have to give, whether it’s being expelled, whether it’s being in a hostile environment.”

“A majority of members of the Nashville Metropolitan Council will vote to reinstate Justin Jones to the Tennessee state Legislature after he was expelled from the House of Representatives on Thursday over his protests on the chamber floor against gun violence,” NBC News reports.

“For years, one of your colleagues, an admitted child molester, sat in this chamber – no expulsion.”— Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones (D), on the House floor, just before he was expelled for demonstrating over gun violence.

Natalie Allison: “I covered the statehouse for years. It’s been heading in this direction for a while.”

“Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas released his first public statement since a ProPublica report revealed that he had accepted luxury trips around the globe for more than two decades, including travel on a superyacht and private jet, from a prominent Republican donor without disclosing them,” the Washington Post reports.

“The trips were funded by Harlan Crow, a Dallas businessman and influential donor to Republican candidates and causes related to the law and judiciary. Thomas said Friday that Crow was among his ‘dearest friends’ for over 25 years.”

Said Thomas: “As friends do, we have joined Crow and his wife on a number of family trips during the more than quarter century we have known them. Early in my tenure at the Court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary, and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.”

The Los Angeles Times says it reported about Thomas’ gifts 20 years ago. After that he stopped disclosing them.

Washingtonian: “When Republican megadonor Harlan Crow isn’t lavishing Justice Clarence Thomas with free trips on his private plane and yacht (in possible violation of Supreme Court ethics rules), he lives a quiet life in Dallas among his historical collections. These collections include Hitler artifacts—two of his paintings of European cityscapes, a signed copy of Mein Kampf, and assorted Nazi memorabilia—plus a garden full of statues of the 20th century’s worst despots.”

“Crow, the billionaire heir to a real estate fortune, has said that he’s filled his property with these mementoes because he hates communism and fascism. Nonetheless, his collections caused an uproar back in 2015 when Marco Rubio attended a fundraiser at Crow’s house on the eve of Yom Kippur. Rubio’s critics thought the timing was inappropriate given, you know, the Hitler stuff.”

“Ten days after narrowly defeating a bill to provide free school lunches to low-income K-12 students, the North Dakota Senate approved legislation to increase the amount of money lawmakers and other state employees receive in meal reimbursements,” the Grand Forks Herald reports.

CNN: “The intense whipping effort and internal drama on a messaging bill that is dead-on-arrival in the Senate has become a recurring theme of the House GOP’s first 100 days in office. With little room for error in their razor-thin majority, Republicans have so far struggled to deliver on key priorities like the border and the budget amid their internal divisions – though they have notched some symbolic victories on energy and education, while actually succeeding in overturning a DC crime bill.”

“Despite the handful of successes, the party’s more vulnerable members are frustrated with how the House Republican majority has so far spent its time in power, which has also included a heavy focus on investigations and running defense for former President Donald Trump.”

“I don’t have time to sit around all day long and drink scotch and bullshit about bills that have no chance of passing into law.”— Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), quoted by CNN, on how the House GOP majority is working out.

“Some angry GOP lawmakers warn that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s position could be on rocky ground after a report he blamed members of his leadership team for Republicans’ chaos over the budget,” Axios reports.

“Multiple House Republicans argued McCarthy’s criticism of Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-TX) undermines their messaging and opens the floodgates for public infighting earlier than necessary.”

“McCarthy told colleagues he lacks confidence that Arrington can deliver a budget proposal… The California Republican also reportedly told allies he views Scalise as ‘ineffective’ and unwilling to take hard positions.”

“The Pentagon is investigating social-media posts that purport to reveal highly classified U.S. government documents on the war in Ukraine and other key international topics, in what could be one of the most dangerous intelligence breaches in decades,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Well over 100 images, marked with ‘Top Secret’ and other classifications indicating they represent highly sensitive U.S.-produced intelligence, were posted in the Discord message board of fans of the Minecraft computer game around March 1. While many of them were deleted recently, open-source intelligence researchers have managed to download more than 60 files.”

“The documents, which appear to originate from within the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, include details about the disposition of Ukrainian forces, air defenses and military equipment, classified information about arms and support the U.S. has provided to Kyiv in its fight against Russian invaders, and intelligence on internal matters in a variety of nations, including Israel and South Korea.”

New York Times: Both sides suggest the leak of Western war plans could be a ploy.

“A trove of leaked Pentagon documents reveals how deeply Russia’s security and intelligence services have been penetrated by the United States, demonstrating Washington’s ability to warn Ukraine about planned strikes and providing an assessment of the strength of Moscow’s war machine,” the New York Times reports.

“The documents paint a portrait of a depleted Russian military that is struggling in its war in Ukraine and of a military apparatus that is deeply compromised. They contain daily real-time warnings to American intelligence agencies on the timing of Moscow’s strikes and even its specific targets. Such intelligence has allowed the United States to pass on to Ukraine crucial information on how to defend itself.”

“The dramatic dueling rulings by two federal district judges on Friday about access to a widely used abortion pill set up a lower court conflict that legal experts say will almost certainly send the dispute to the Supreme Court,” the New York Times reports.

Vox: How to understand competing medication abortion rulings.

“Access to the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S. plunged into uncertainty Friday following conflicting court rulings over the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone that has been widely available for more than 20 years,” the AP reports.

“For now, the drug the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2000 appeared to remain at least immediately available in the wake of two separate rulings that were issued in quick succession by federal judges in Texas and Washington.”

“The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has put on hold its longstanding practice of paying for emergency contraception, and in rare cases abortions, for victims of sexual assault,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“Iowa law and federal regulations require the state to pay for many of the expenses facing assault survivors who seek medical help, including the costs of forensic examinations and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.”

“The White House is re-upping discussions with abortion pill manufacturers and U.S. pharmacy chains on ways to push back against efforts to ban mifepristone, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, as it gears up to appeal a Texas court ruling suspending the approval of the drug,” Reuters reports.

Politico: “The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last year ending that constitutional right has exposed Americans’ broad opposition to the strict abortion bans adopted or proposed in GOP-controlled states. And it’s revealed that public surveys on the matter probably need more nuanced questions now.”

John Ellis: “For decades, Republicans were able to promise that they would do everything in their power to overturn Roe v. Wade, secure in the knowledge that with each passing decade, Roe v. Wade would become ever more embedded as ‘settled law’ and thus ever less likely to be over-turned. A friend of mine put it this way: they never imagined the dog would catch the car.”

“They underestimated the tenacity and perseverance of the anti-abortion movement. Over the course of 50 years, it embedded itself into the GOP infrastructure and worked to get ‘pro-life’ judges appointed to state and federal judgeships. It engineered legislation designed to be litigated before those judges, who in turn kicked appeals up to the Supreme Court. And there those appeals died or were denied, due to ‘settled law.’”

“‘Settled law’ unsettled when The Federalist Society, The Trump administration (especially Vice President Pence) and Sen. Mitch McConnell decided to reward the pro-life movement’s hard work and unswerving loyalty with three ‘not-settled-law’ Supreme Court picks. In short order, Roe v. Wade was tossed out. The new law of the land was Dobbs v. Jackson.”

“Republicans are stuck with it now, much to their chagrin.”

Michelle Goldberg: “Having made the criminalization of abortion a central axis of their political project for decades, Republicans have no obvious way out of their electoral predicament. A decisive majority of Americans — 64 percent, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey — believe that abortion should be legal in most cases. A decisive majority of Republicans — 63 percent, according to the same survey — believe that it should not.”

“When abortion bans were merely theoretical, anti-abortion passion was often a boon to Republicans, powering the grass-roots organizing of the religious right. Now that the end of Roe has awakened a previously complacent pro-choice majority, anti-abortion passion has become a liability, but the Republican Party can’t jettison it without tearing itself apart.

Amanda Carpenter: “At the broadest level, the Manhattan district attorney’s indictment of Trump regards the same subject as the ongoing investigation by the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia and one of the investigations now being led by the special counsel in the Department of Justice. In fact, the case even strikes the same theme as the Mueller investigation and both of Trump’s impeachments.”

“What would that be? Election criminality.”

“That’s the throughline of most of Trump’s corruption since 2016. He covered up hush money to his mistresses, made overtures to Russia ‘if you’re listening,’ held up funding for Ukraine, put the squeeze on Georgia election officials to ‘find the votes,’ and incited the January 6th insurrection all in pursuit of the same goal: to win presidential elections—and then, when he lost in 2020, to overturn the results.”

“Sweeping election criminality is the element that elevates Trump’s actions from tawdry scandals to weighty cases worthy of being brought to trial either in the courts or, via impeachment proceedings, in Congress.”

New York Times: “While nothing is certain, there are numerous signs that she may go big, with a more kaleidoscopic indictment charging not only Mr. Trump, but perhaps a dozen or more of his allies.”

“Her investigation has targeted a wide range of conduct centered around efforts to subvert the democratic process and overturn Mr. Trump’s 2020 election loss. Nearly 20 people are already known to have been told that they are targets who could face charges, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party.”

“For Mr. Trump, the possibility of a second and potentially more complex criminal indictment in another state underscores the blizzard of legal challenges he is facing, even as he emerges as the clear front-runner among Republican presidential candidates.”

Donald Trump’s potential hiring of Laura Loomer “ignited a firestorm among some of Mr. Trump’s most vocal conservative supporters, and by late Friday, a high-ranking campaign official said Ms. Loomer was no longer going to be hired,” the New York Times reports.

NBC News: “If Trump’s mood was mostly reserved that day — from his arrival at the courthouse where he declined to speak to reporters, through a jab-filled but sedately delivered speech, all the way to the end-of-night dinner — it’s a mood his team will be trying to sustain over the coming months as he tries to survive the twin crucibles of an election and criminal jeopardy.”

“The relative calm in the midst of chaos Tuesday belied Trump’s well-earned reputation for failing to control his impulses and for whipping his supporters into frenzies in times of crisis — most notably the one that ended in the Jan. 6 insurrection. But it also revealed the extent to which the smaller, more insular, lower-drama team around him this time has already helped him keep focus and avoided riling him up unnecessarily.”

Rick Hasen: “A divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit, siding with almost all of the district court decisions considering the question, has held that some of those who invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 could be charged under a federal statute that makes it a crime to, among other things ‘corruptly….obstruct…or impede any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.’”

“This case has implications not only for hundreds of January 6-related prosecutions, but also potentially against Donald Trump, should DOJ choose to charge him with election-subversion-related activities after the 2020 election.”

New York Times: “Like those presidents before him, when Joseph R. Biden Jr. visits Ireland next week, he will be doubly blessed — or inconvenienced, depending on your perspective — by family business. His busy five-day schedule includes not only meetings in Ireland and Northern Ireland, working to shore up trade and the Anglo-Irish peace deal of 1998, but also potentially trips to not one but two ancestral homes.”

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed his Florida counterpart Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a bill allowing permitless carry into law last week, just days after the country’s latest school shooting in Nashville,” Politico reports.

Said Newsom: “They don’t care about our kids. Cause if they did, they’d ban these damn weapons of war. They would have background checks that require some common damn sense.”

He added: “He’s scared to death, scared of the people, scared of the public. I think the majority of NRA members probably oppose that position.”

“Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider recommending a pardon for Daniel Perry on Saturday, one day after a Travis County jury convicted the U.S. Army sergeant in the 2020 murder of Austin protester Garrett Foster,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“After 17 hours of deliberations and an eight-day trial, jurors Friday found Perry guilty of murder for shooting and killing Foster, who was armed with an AK-47 as part of a group protesting police brutality.”

House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) “has issued six subpoenas for documents and bank records as part of his investigation into Hunter Biden’s business deals and the Biden family,” Politico reports.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) suffered a broken leg Saturday at the UConn men’s championship parade in Hartford, Connecticut, and will undergo surgery, ABC News reports.

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

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