Cup of Joe – April 19, 2023

“The judge in the Fox News defamation case said on Tuesday that the case was resolved, abruptly ending a long-running dispute over misinformation in the 2020 election just as a highly anticipated trial was about to begin,” the New York Times reports.

“It was a last-minute end to a case that began two years ago and after the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that peeled back the curtain on a media company that has long resisted outside scrutiny.”

“Details of the settlement were not yet known. Dominion had initially demanded $1.6 billion in damages.”

“Ex-Fox News producer Abby Grossberg said she recently found more evidence relevant to Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against her former employer and plans to turn it over to the court,” NBC News reports.

“Grossberg, who worked as a senior producer for hosts Maria Bartiromo and Tucker Carlson, alleged in a new sworn statement obtained by NBC News that Fox lawyers ignored repeated reminders about an additional cellphone in her possession and did not search it during court-ordered discovery.”

In a 2:39 a.m. ET post on Truth Social, Donald Trump gave unsolicited legal advice to Rupert Murdoch on how to handle the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News.

Said Trump: “If Fox would finally admit that there was large scale cheating & irregularities int he 2020 presidential election, which would be a good thing for than & for America, the came against them, which should not have existed at all, would be greatly weakened.”

He added: “Back up those patriots at Fox instead of throwing them under the bus.”

Washington Post: “After 100 days in control, House Republicans have not reached consensus on how they will handle a vote on raising the debt ceiling — a critical piece of legislation that, if not passed, has global economic implications. They have not agreed on what their budget should, or should not, include, with various factions of the conference preparing their own versions. They are once again uncertain about when to vote on a major midterm promise — border security legislation — after not being able to secure support for its passage. And behind all of these public debates, skepticism and distrust is growing among GOP leaders.”

“The growing rancor and the lack of progress on major legislation have set the stage for months of tumult ahead for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has struggled to shepherd his narrowly divided conference as both moderate and extreme GOP members seek to leverage their power in the party’s four-vote majority…”

“It’s… increasingly likely that Republicans won’t unveil a budget before addressing the debt ceiling after leaders realized the challenges of compiling a document that would gain the support of the entire conference, according to multiple lawmakers.”

Punchbowl News: “A few things are true about the House Republican position on the debt limit.”

“No. 1: The proposal unveiled this morning by Speaker Kevin McCarthy is likely to move significantly to the right before a floor vote.”

“No. 2: This morning’s closed House Republican Conference meeting revealed that McCarthy is willing to throw everything at the wall to get a debt-limit bill through his chamber. McCarthy even said that he’s willing to change the duration of the debt-limit hike. He wants to lift it until May 2024, but some conservatives want a shorter hike.”

“McCarthy is also considering repealing the Inflation Reduction Act as part of the bill in order to win over support from the right.”

The spending-cut proposals unveiled by Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday could fall hardest on people in Republican-leaning states, Reuters reports.

Punchbowl News: “There’s very serious doubt inside GOP leadership that this proposal can garner 218 GOP votes. No Democrats will support it, of course. And if McCarthy can’t push it through, that significantly strengthens the White House and Senate Democrats’ hand.”

“House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s team will begin lobbying members for support as soon as the text is finalized. There’s some hope we could see text as soon as today.”

Asked on CNBC whether he’d amassed enough Republican support, Speaker Kevin McCarthy punted: “I think I have the support of America because I’ll get the party behind it.”

Howver, McCarthy later told CNN he had the necessary votes.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a plea to House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning to back his debt ceiling plan, telling them that although it doesn’t have to include everything they want, it will help get him to the negotiating table with President Joe Biden,” CNN reports.

“McCarthy also told members that once he is at the table, he can push for other policy provisions down the road, according to multiple sources in the room, underscoring the idea that leadership sees the GOP-only plan as purely a way to strengthen their hand at the negotiating table.”Axios: House Republicans won’t commit to McCarthy’s debt ceiling plan

Punchbowl News: “Both Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that the U.S. government could default on its debt. We’ve covered a lot of these debt limit skirmishes and they rarely begin with the two top lawmakers in Washington warning that the worst outcome — a default — is possible.”

“Part of this is posturing. McCarthy wants President Joe Biden to negotiate and Schumer wants McCarthy to back down. Neither of these seems likely at this point.”

“Both parties also have taken note that Wall Street still seems numb to this potential crisis in the making.”

“I’ll be blunt. If Speaker McCarthy continues in this direction, we are headed toward a default.”– Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), quoted by Punchbowl News, on the latest proposal by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt ceiling.

At this point, McCarthy wants the House to vote by the end of the month on a package that combines the debt ceiling with draconian spending cuts, but he clearly doesn’t have (i) internal agreement on those cuts or on how much to raise the debt ceiling by; or (ii) the votes to push a package through as early as next week.

McCarthy is preparing to bypass the House committees altogether and cobble together a package on the floor himself, Punchbowl reports. If wishing and hoping were a plan … One word of warning: Political reporters are doing McCarthy a favor by calling what he’s presenting publicly, including in his speech yesterday to the NYSE, a “plan.” It’s not a plan yet. It skews the coverage to pretend it is a plan. McCarthy is taking advantage of this journalistic failure to try to leverage pressure on the White House. The White House ain’t stupid and isn’t biting. McCarthy doesn’t have a plan or the votes. Until that changes, that’s really all you need to know.

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday voiced his strong opposition to allowing Democrats to temporarily replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Judiciary Committee, stymieing a move sought by Democrats to strengthen the party’s hand in confirming judicial nominees during Feinstein’s extended absence,” the Washington Post reports.

“During remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell argued that nominees by President Biden that enjoy some Republican support are still able to move forward through the committee as Feinstein recovers from shingles in California.”

“Adding another Democratic vote in the meantime would only serve to allow Democrats to ‘force through their very worst nominees,’ McConnell said.”

“A second Republican senator on the Judiciary Committee announced their opposition on Monday to temporarily replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the committee, adding to Democrats’ woes over how to move forward on stalled judicial nominations caused by Feinstein’s health-related absence,” the Washington Post reports.

“Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest member of the Senate, announced last week she had asked Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee. That followed calls from some congressional Democrats for Feinstein, who has been absent from the chamber since February, to resign from the Senate.”

“They’d like Republicans to help them speed the appointment of more liberal justices? Yes — when hell freezes over.” — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), quoted by NBC News, throwing cold water on the prospect of voting with Democrats to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on the Judiciary Committee.

The most generous interpretation of Senate Democrats’ ineffectual effort to get Republicans to help them sideline Dianne Feinstein so they can resume confirming Biden judges is that they needed to go through these motions and have them fail before they could prevail on Feinstein to resign her seat.

“Justice Clarence Thomas intends to amend his financial disclosure forms to reflect a 2014 real estate deal he made with a GOP megadonor – an acknowledgment that the transaction should have been disclosed almost a decade ago,“ CNN reports.

“The deal between Thomas and Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate magnate and long-time friend of Thomas, involves the sale of three Georgia properties, including the home where Thomas’ mother, Leola Williams, 94, currently lives.”

Billionaire Harlan Crow told the Dallas Morning News that he and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas are the victims of a “political hit job.” Crow said the media coverage of his gifts to Thomas is “factually incorrect and being written with a strong political agenda.” He added: “I think it’s a political hit job.”

Instead of mounting an effective defense, Crow revealed the essential hollowness of his “friendship” with Thomas, which began a few years after Thomas was confirmed to the high court:

But would Crow be friends with Thomas if he weren’t a Supreme Court justice? “It’s an interesting, good question. I don’t know how to answer that. Maybe not. Maybe yes. I don’t know.” Did he ever consider his friendship as a ticket to quid pro quo? “Every single relationship — a baby’s relationship to his mom — has some kind of reciprocity,” he said. …

 “I try to be friendly, polite and kind to you, and you do that back to me. If that’s reciprocity, then yes, there’s reciprocity. But if it’s anything beyond that, there’s no reciprocity.”

“Key Senate Democrats are eyeing a hearing about Supreme Court ethics in the wake of revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas receiving previously undisclosed gifts and luxury travel from billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow,” NBC News reports.

Republican officials from McCurtain County, Okla. “are being investigated by the FBI after they were caught on tape expressing their frustration about it not being socially acceptable beat up and hang Black people, as well as their desires to hire hitmen to kill newspaper reporters,” WCPT reports.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) called for the resignations of the officials, Tulsa World reports.

“A southeastern Oklahoma sheriff’s office says the recording in which the sheriff and others are reportedly heard discussing killing two journalists was illegal and predicted felony charges will be filed,” the AP reports.

“A statement on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, the first public statement since the comments by Sheriff Kevin Clardy and others were reported by the McCurtain Gazette-News, does not address the recorded comments about killing journalists and hanging Black people.”

Andrew Lester, an 85-year-old white man, was charged with felony assault and armed criminal action in last week’s shooting of Ralph Yarl, the Black teenager who accidentally went to Lester’s address to pick up his siblings.

“Donald Trump isn’t quiet about much. But after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban, the former president has remained silent on the subject,” NBC News reports.

“He didn’t chide DeSantis for signing the bill late on Thursday night. Nor did he needle his likely 2024 primary rival for sidestepping the issue in two events Friday, including one at the conservative Liberty University.”

“Trump’s aides have criticized DeSantis from both sides on abortion. But it remains a mystery where Trump, a Florida resident, stands on the question of whether abortion should be illegal at six weeks.”

“A federal judge on Monday denied a bid by Donald Trump to delay a civil trial involving a rape allegation by author E. Jean Carroll against the former president, rejecting a contention that a ‘cooling off’ period is needed after Trump’s arraignment this month in a criminal case related to hush money payments to an adult-film star,” the Washington Post reports.

“In an order, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said the trial will begin in Manhattan on April 25 as planned.”

“A little-known lawyer in New York has long been the thorn in Donald Trump’s side, pressing deeper with every passing year by taking down his scammy charity, blocking his presidential policies, investigating his finances, grilling his annoyed son with questions, and finally indicting the former president last month,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Matthew Colangelo, after years of relentlessly aggressive work, is finally on Trump’s personal radar—and that of his most combative MAGA allies, who’ve painted a target on his back in recent weeks.”

“Colangelo, who pursued Trump while at the New York Attorney General’s Office, joined the Department of Justice after Trump’s exit from the White House. He recently left the DOJ to join Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team of prosecutors pursuing criminal charges against Trump that threaten to brand him the first-ever American president-turned-felon. And now he’ll be instrumental in prosecuting the DA’s case against Trump.”

We’ve known for some time that federal prosecutors are examining whether attorneys paid for by Donald Trump to represent people close to him sought to improperly influence their testimony in the Jan. 6 investigations, but CNN reported Friday that Special Counsel Jack Smith is looking into the same issue in the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.

After being forced to testify against his own client, Trump attorney Evan Corcoran has withdrawn from representing the former president in the Mar-a-Lago case. Ethics rules generally prohibit a lawyer from representing a client in a proceeding where the lawyer is a also a witness. Corcoran is reportedly still actively involved in defending Trump in the Jan. 6 investigations.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared that the Florida Legislature will reassert that the state has control of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He then mused about potentially selling off utilities, and even developing district land that Disney doesn’t own.

Said DeSantis: “People are like, ‘Well… what should we do with this land? Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks? Someone even said, ‘Maybe you need another state prison?’ Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.”

Disney seemingly fired a shot at Gov. Ron DeSantis, promoting Disneyland’s first-ever “Pride Nite” event just hours after the Florida governor outlined new legislation seeking to wrangle the company as it attempts to resist a state takeover of its special taxing district, the Daily Beast reports.

Washington Post: “As the focus turns to the 2024 race, DeSantis’s allies and foes are looking at the current legislative session as a lens into how he governs and what type of leader he might be at a national level — where he would face far more hurdles with a divided Congress.”

“Some are drawing parallels to Trump, not just in his penchant for using the powers of his office to pursue political enemies but also for fraying the institutional norms of the nation’s democracy.”

“U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy made her first visit to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich on Monday, more than two weeks after Russia detained the journalist for alleged espionage,” NBC News reports.

A Moscow court upheld the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich at the prison where he has been held since his arrest last month, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A Russian court convicted Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza for treason and sentenced him to 25 years in prison after he criticized the government of President Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The sentence is the longest to have been handed to a Russian opposition figure since the war in Ukraine began in February last year. It comes after a sweeping clampdown on all forms of dissent and the detentions of more than 20,000 antiwar activists for participation in protest rallies, social-media posts and even private conversations denouncing Mr. Putin.”

“Egypt paused a plan to secretly supply rockets to Russia last month following talks with senior U.S. officials and instead decided to produce artillery ammunition for Ukraine,” the Washington Post reports.

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar’s weekly newsletter to constituents included a link to an anti-Semitic website praising him, Media Matters reported. It doesn’t appear to have been an accident. How do we know?

The original article Gosar’s newsletter linked to at the Hitler-adoring, Holocaust-denying Veterans Today website was titled: “Congressman: Jewish warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangers Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’”

The headline was edited for the newsletter to remove the Jewish reference: “Congressman Gosar: Warmongers Nuland & Blinken ‘Are Dangerous Fools Who Can Get Us All Killed’” 

“As the national media spotlight focuses on Tennessee Republicans, House Speaker Cameron Sexton is drawing attention for having multiple homes and using his per diem expenses for a Nashville house,” the Tennessee Lookout reports.

“The high-stakes legal battle over a widely used abortion pill has left some blue states busily stockpiling the medication, in anticipation of a time when it could no longer be easily accessible,” Axios reports.

“At least two states say they are creating reserves of mifepristone to continue enabling access to the two-pill regimen for medication abortion that’s at the center of the legal battle. Two others are focusing on the other pill, whose availability isn’t threatened, to offer an alternative.”

“Vice President Kamala Harris’ central role in warning about threats to abortion rights has been tested anew amid a fresh fight over abortion access,” NBC News reports.

“It comes after years of concerns about her role in the administration as the White House seeks to keep pressure on the issue and galvanize voters ahead of the 2024 presidential election.”

Washington Post: “The leaked documents confirm in detail that the United States is using its vast array of espionage and surveillance tools — including cutting-edge satellites and signals intelligence — to keep Kyiv ahead of Moscow’s war plans and help them inflict Russian casualties.”

“But Biden officials adamantly reject the proxy label, noting that it is a defensive war Ukraine didn’t start and that Kyiv is fighting for its very survival.”

The Navy and FBI are now investigating Sarah Bils, the 37-year-old former Navy noncommissioned officer who was identified by the WSJ as running a pro-Russian social media account that helped spread the classified documents released by air national guardsman Jack Teixeira.

Elon Musk claimed in a Fox News interview that various unnamed government agencies had full access to Twitter users’ direct messages before his takeover of the company. Said Musk: “The degree to which various government agencies effectively had full access to everything that was going on at Twitter blew my mind.”

“The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has offered immunity deals to some of the alternate GOP electors who met at the Georgia Capitol and cast phony Electoral College votes for Donald Trump following the 2020 election,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Daily Beast: The fake GOP electors Trump recruited in Georgia are now turning on each other, according to new court documents.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked by CNN for the first time since returning to the U.S. Senate for his thoughts on Donald Trump’s indictment.

Said McConnell: “I hit my head, but I didn’t hit it that hard. Nice try.”

“Suffice it to say, this wasn’t the first time that being hard-headed has served me very well.”— Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by the Associated Press, returning to the Senate after a concussion.

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

2 comments on “Cup of Joe – April 19, 2023

  1. cassandram

    WaPo does the better job of reporting on the debt limit disaster — they do let you know that there are basically two tracks here. But it really annoys me to listen to reporters who treat the debt limit and the budget as all of a piece. That is, of course, how the Rs want it portrayed, but it is Congress’ job to raise the debt limit. You negotiate the next budget when you have one to negotiate with.

  2. cassandram

    Right after DeSantis went all in threatening Disney, Disney announced it’s first ever Pride Night in June.

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