Cup of Joe – April 27, 2023

House Republicans have passed their debt-limit bill, 217 to 215, the New York Times reports.

Even Republicans conceded that their legislation was headed nowhere; President Biden has threatened to veto it, and the measure is dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate.

Four Republicans voted with Democrats: Reps. Andy Biggs, Tim Burchett, Ken Buck and Matt Gaetz.

Punchbowl News: “House Republican leaders declared repeatedly over the last few days that they wouldn’t change their $4.8 trillion debt-limit package before it hit the floor. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his top lieutenants vowed to muscle the Limit, Save, Grow Act through the chamber without altering the underlying measure.”

“But late Tuesday night, McCarthy’s leadership crew bent to an uncomfortable reality — the bill needed to be changed, so they changed it.”

Playbook: “Will this solve McCarthy’s math problem? We’ll see. He can withstand no more than four defections assuming all members vote and Democrats, as expected, stay united in opposition.”

Semafor: “Kevin McCarthy is trying to find his way out of a corn maze.”

Punchbowl News: “We’ve spent the last few hours camped outside of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office. The general consensus is that the House Republican leadership is pushing hard to hold a vote on their debt-limit plan Wednesday. There are potential attendance problems on the GOP side on Thursday, so the leadership is under pressure to get this voted on as quickly as possible.”

“As we’ve reported extensively, there are two key pockets of Republican members that have problems with the bill as it stands — conservatives and Midwesterners from ethanol-producing states. Conservatives want to make the package more stringent, and Midwesterners are opposed to eliminating tax credits for ethanol.”

“Together, this is between eight to 12 no votes, a major concern for McCarthy and top Republicans. They can lose only four votes.”

President Biden on Tuesday threatened to veto legislation being pushed by House Republican leaders that would condition support for raising the debt ceiling on deep spending cuts, calling it “a reckless attempt to extract extreme concessions as a condition for the United States simply paying the bills it has already incurred,” the Washington Post reports.

“Grinning through 15 excruciating rounds of votes to become speaker of the House in January may have been unpleasant, but Kevin McCarthy was determined to focus on the silver lining,” the New York Times reports.

“In the months that have followed, Mr. McCarthy has enjoyed a honeymoon of sorts, a period when the question of whether he did, in fact, learn anything about governing through the divisions in his fractious conference went largely untested. That stage has now ended.”

“Mr. McCarthy is set as early as Wednesday to bring to the floor his proposal to lift the debt ceiling for a year in exchange for spending cuts and policy changes. With a slim majority — with all Democrats present and voting no, he could afford to lose no more than four votes — it is still not clear whether he has the votes to pass a bill that has no chance of enactment.”

“It’s growing more likely that the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as early June if Congress doesn’t act, according to a trio of new analyses,” CNN reports.

“That’s because tax receipts are running much weaker than expected so far this season.”

Abby Grossberg, the former Fox News producer for first Maria Bartiromo then Tucker Carlson who sued the right-wing news network, is turning out to be a pivotal figure. Her lawsuit and the audio recordings she made while at Fox quickly complicated Fox’s defense of the Dominion defamation lawsuit, and she’s since been subpoenaed in the Smartmatic defamation case against Fox.

Grossberg’s lawyers provided MSNBC’s Ari Melber with audio recordings she made of Ted Cruz talking to her and Bartiromo just days before Jan. 6. Melber had a field day with it last night on his show.

Grossberg’s lawyer says Special Counsel Jack Smith has contacted them for access to her audio recordings.

Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) suggested that Fox News was “in bed with the left” and that’s why they ousted Tucker Carlson.

Said Lake: “It’s very obvious right now that Fox News has become the establishment GOP, which is really the uniparty Republicans. They’re the ones who are really in bed with the left.”

New York Times: “The synchronous exits of Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon from the cable news landscape on Monday represented the end of an era for their industry — the most combative and partisan since Ted Turner introduced the concept of 24-hour news to television more than 40 years ago.”

“No equivalence can be drawn between the two hosts. Mr. Carlson often led in the ratings by running wild at Fox News with white nationalist and false conspiracy stories that put him in a class by himself. Mr. Lemon became known for his anti-Trump broadsides that were tame in comparison — and drew much smaller ratings — yet could come off as plenty hot by the standards of CNN.”

“But in their most recent incarnations, Mr. Carlson and Mr. Lemon were both products of the Trump years — set-top-box combatants who often made headlines themselves by giving their audiences generous helpings of indignation and outrage.”

Rupert Murdoch’s media business secretly paid Prince William a “very large sum of money” to quietly settle a phone-hacking claim, The Guardian reports.

The Prince of Wales received the previously undisclosed payment in 2020 after bringing a legal claim against the owner of the Sun and the News of the World.

It’s still early yet, but Donald Trump is rapidly solidifying his support for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s leaving Ron DeSantis in the dust. No one is excited about Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson or Tim Scott. And only Chris Christie is excited about Chris Christie.

But Tucker Carlson — who was just fired from Fox News — might be Trump’s most dangerous competitor. There have been rumors of Carlson running for president, but with his abrupt dismissal from Fox it may come true. That’s because Carlson is likely precluded from working for a Fox competitor for at least some time.

Running for president would give Carlson a far bigger platform than he had every night on Fox News. He is a Republican television celebrity. He knows how to talk to people through a camera. He’s got a devoted base of support. And, as Rick Wilson points out, “He’s polarizing, terrible, and utterly amoral… in short, better than Ron DeSantis for the base.”

Gabriel Sherman: “A new theory has emerged. According to the source, Fox Corp. chair Rupert Murdoch removed Carlson over remarks Carlson made during a speech at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th Anniversary gala on Friday night. Carlson laced his speech with religious overtones that even Murdoch found too extreme, the source, who was briefed on Murdoch’s decision-making, said. Carlson told the Heritage audience that national politics has become a manichean battle between ‘good’ and ‘evil.’”

“Carlson said that people advocating for transgender rights and DEI programs want to destroy America and they could not be persuaded with facts… The answer, Carlson suggested, was prayer.”

Said a source: “That stuff freaks Rupert out. He doesn’t like all the spiritual talk.”

“Fox News executives have in their possession a dossier of alleged dirt on Tucker Carlson should he attack the network in the wake of his departure,” Rolling Stone reports.  “One source with knowledge calls it an ‘oppo file.’”

“The file includes internal complaints regarding workplace conduct, disparaging comments about management and colleagues, and allegations that the now-former primetime host created a toxic work environment.”

“Washington state became the 10th state in the U.S. to ban assault weapons on Tuesday when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill passed by this year’s legislature as part of a sweeping package of proposals aimed at reducing gun violence,” the Olympian reports.

“An emergency clause in the assault weapons bill means that the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault-style weapon are immediately banned in the state of Washington.”

“Chief Justice John Roberts has refused a request to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, leaving Democrats struggling for their next move over demands for a code of conduct for the Supreme Court,” Bloomberg reports.

“The request followed a report that Justice Clarence Thomas took undisclosed luxury trips over two decades paid for by a Texas real estate developer who has donated millions to conservative causes.”

“The judge presiding over a rape claim trial involving former President Donald Trump advised potential jurors on Tuesday to use fake names with each other so they could preserve their anonymity,” Insider reports.

Opening statements in the civil trial of E. Jean Carroll’s rape and defamation claims against Donald Trump were completed Tuesday, and Carroll could take the stand as early as today. As for whether Trump himself will testify, Carroll doesn’t plan to call him but he’s playing coy about whether he’ll testify in his own defense. The judge in the case has had enough of the gamesmanship and demanded to know this week whether Trump will testify: “Fish or cut bait.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is citing former President Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified info as grounds for asking the judge to limit Trump’s access to certain information in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.

“Nikki Haley on Tuesday will attempt to appeal to swing voters and more moderate Republicans as she delivers an anti-abortion speech in a call to reframe an issue that the GOP has grappled with since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade,” CNN reports.

“The former South Carolina governor’s remarks come as abortion emerges as a central issue among 2024 Republican hopefuls, who want to attract GOP base voters who favor hardline anti-abortion policies without alienating more moderate voters ahead of the general election.”

A Russian lawmaker has openly called for the return of Stalinist methods to crack down on dissent, the Daily Beast reports.

Said State Duma deputy Andrei Gurulyov: “It’s time to introduce the concept of the ‘enemy of the people’: there’s no need to be shy about this.”

He added: “Do I want Stalinist repressions? I do! Moreover my grandfather served nine years on this charge.”

“The second round of Disney layoffs once again hit ABC News on Tuesday, with Nate Silver’s data-driven politics and journalism brand FiveThirtyEight among those being impacted,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Silver told FiveThirtyEight employees in a Slack message that he expects to leave Disney when his contract is up, which he added would be soon.”

Wrote Silver: “Unfortunately the day we’ve been worried about has arrived.”

“We gotta stop looking at Washington as the only thing that matters. Something that has been really irritating to me is this idea that somehow state legislatures are the bench. That always implies that higher office means that it’s somehow a promotion. And that gets us back into this mess that we started in, where we ignore what’s happening in the states and state legislatures and then they chip away and chip away and chip away and before we know it we’ve lost two thirds of … state legislatures like we did starting in 2009.”

— Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D), quoted by the Washington Post, offering Democrats a warning.

Gallup surveys in 137 countries show Russia’s image has suffered worldwide since it began its war in Ukraine.

For the first time in Gallup’s history of tracking ratings of world leaders, the majority of the world disapproves of Russia’s leadership.

“Iowa House Republicans passed a bill Thursday, with a vote of 55-41, severely restricting what the Iowa State Auditor’s office can do to watch over other government agencies by limiting what information the auditor can access,” according to Iowa Starting Line.

“Auditor Rob Sand is the only statewide Democrat left in office after last year’s election, and his job is to serve as a watchdog over state and local government to ensure tax dollars are being handled properly.”

“One last obstacle is being removed to smooth the way for Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“An amendment filed Tuesday to the state Senate’s latest election bill would change the state’s ‘resign to run’ law to specifically allow Florida officeholders to run for president or vice president without having to give up their current positions.”

The first and only transgender member of the Montana House has been under sustained attack by Republicans since she called them out a week ago for a proposed ban on gender-affirming care.

In retaliation for what Republican members claimed was her “hateful rhetoric,” House Speaker Matt Regier (R) has refused to recognize state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), essentially silencing her in the body to which she was elected. You know the reverse victimization move by heart now. Republicans hatefully attack transgender people but label any criticism of them for doing it as itself “hateful.”

The speaker cancelled yesterday’s session after a Monday protest in the chamber by supporters of Zephyr, 34, led to seven arrests.

Republican members are set to consider censure or other disciplinary action against Zephyr today.

Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), now the CEO of Trump’s Truth Social, lost his defamation suit over a 2018 Ryan Lizza’s story in Esquire. The judge in the case ruled that the article’s claims were “substantially, objectively true.”

Closing arguments were completed Tuesday in the four-month-long seditious conspiracy trial of the Proud Boys. The jury is set to begin deliberations today.

A judge ordered Hunter Biden to appear at every court hearing in the paternity case that is headed for trial this summer, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.

Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo altered an analysis released by the Florida Department of Health last year to suggest mRNA Covid-19 vaccines pose a significant health risk to men ages 18 to 39, Politico reports.

“The Texas Senate has advanced a proposal that would require the secretary of state to appoint a chief election marshal, who in turn would name election officers in regions throughout the state, to investigate suspected election violations,” the Austin American Statesman reports.

White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged a question over whether President Biden would serve all eight years if re-elected to a second term.

She later blamed it on her effort to avoid Hatch Act violations by talking about the 2024 presidential campaign.

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