Cup of Joe – May 5, 2023

“House and Senate Democrats are taking procedural steps to force votes on a clean debt ceiling increase without the spending cuts Republicans have demanded,” Axios reports.

Politico: “It’s not just weaker-than-expected tax receipts that are pushing up the drop-dead deadline for raising the legal cap on borrowing. It’s also that the IRS is processing people’s tax returns faster. Because of its newfound efficiency, the government will run out of money to service its debts earlier than it expected.”

The Senate on Wednesday voted 56-41 to override President Biden’s two-year suspension of tariffs on solar imports from four Southeast Asia countries, The Hill reports.

 “Members of Congress say they want to help small farmers. In some cases, that includes themselves,” Politico reports.

“About two dozen members of Congress are also farmers, a profession long revered in American culture and politics. But as lawmakers prepare to dole out hundreds of billions of dollars in agricultural subsidies in the 2023 farm bill, government watchdogs warn that being a farmer could also present a conflict of interest — particularly for those members of Congress who take government subsidies, as multiple lawmakers who sit on the House committee that writes the farm bill do.”

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) introduced legislation that would require disclosure of AI-generated content in political ads — part of an effort, she said, to “get the Congress going on addressing many of the challenges that we’re facing with AI,” the Washington Post reports.

“A lawyer for former President Donald Trump said Wednesday said he will not present any witnesses at his civil trial for a lawsuit accusing him of raping the writer E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s and defaming her last fall when he again denied her claim,” CNBC reports.

New York Times: “The lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, had earlier told the judge that Mr. Trump would not come to court to testify in the civil case. Mr. Trump, who is again running for president, traveled to Scotland this week to open a new golf course.”

The judge expects the jury to get the case Tuesday.

In case you lost count, Insider says 26 women have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault or misconduct.

Charlie Sykes: “It is impossible to imagine that someone with more than two dozen accusations of sexual assault would be able to survive in any other realm of American society: business, entertainment, sports, the military, even politics.”

“We save our lowest standards for the presidency.”

“I haven’t made any decisions regarding charging, at all, at least none that I’m willing to make public at this time.”— Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, quoted by WABE.

“Donald Trump should have no ‘muzzle’ on him while he defends himself against a criminal indictment in Manhattan, his attorneys plan to argue during a hearing Thursday,” ABC News reports.

“Trump, who pleaded not guilty last month to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, is fighting the imposition of a protective order as sought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”

“A New York judge has tossed out Donald Trump’s lawsuit against The New York Times, and ordered the former president to pay all attorneys fees, legal expenses, and associated costs,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Trump filed the lawsuit in 2021, alleging that the newspaper, three of its reporters and his niece Mary Trump engaged in an ‘insidious plot’ to obtain his private records for a Pulitzer-winning story about his tax issues.”

Special counsel Jack Smith sat in on the federal grand jury proceeding while former Vice President Mike Pence testified for more than five hours last week, CNN reports.

Smith is also probing whether surveillance video at Mar-a-Lago subpoenaed by a federal grand jury was tampered with, CNN reports. Smith appears to be focused on what, if anything, happened to the surveillance video after it was subpoenaed by investigators last summer. The surveillance video was subpoenaed in June 2022 because investigators already had suspicions about whether Trump had fully complied with a May 22 subpoena for government documents.

Among the new developments via CNN:

“Longtime Trump Organization executives Matthew Calamari Sr. and his son Matthew Calamari Jr. are expected to appear Thursday before the grand jury investigating possible mishandling of classified documents brought to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, sources said.”

“Prosecutors are expected to ask them about the handling of the surveillance footage and Trump employees’ conversations following the subpoena, according to the sources.”

“Investigators also have previously asked about a text message from [Trump aide Walt] Nauta to Calamari Sr. and subsequent conversations about the surveillance footage, according to two of the sources.”

NYU law professor Ryan Goodman said any tampering with the subpoenaed surveillance video would be “obstruction on steroids”

“Tucker Carlson extracted concessions from Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California that cinched the votes he needed from far-right members to Congress to become Speaker of the House of Representatives,” the former Fox News host said in text messages obtained by Insider.

“The text messages demonstrate how Carlson shaped the direction of the Republican party behind the scenes, using his powerful primetime perch at Fox News before his firing last month to make one of the most powerful elected Republicans in America do his bidding.”

“Florida Republicans on Wednesday approved two bills that will restrict the use of preferred pronouns in schools and ban diversity programs in colleges, building on key priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House candidacy,” the AP reports.

“The proposals were given final passage by the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate. The governor is expected to sign the bills into law.”

“Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended former President Donald Trump for sending active-duty troops to the southwest border in 2018 while criticizing the Biden administration for preparing to do the same now in an effort to combat an expected surge of migrants,” USA Today reports.

Said Graham: “I feel that Donald Trump did the best job in my political lifetime. When Donald Trump did something, it worked.”

“Russia accused the United States on Thursday of being behind what it says was a drone attack on Moscow’s Kremlin citadel intended to kill President Vladimir Putin,” Reuters reports. “A day after blaming Ukraine for what it called a terrorist attack, the Kremlin administration shifted the focus onto the United States, but without providing evidence. The White House was quick to reject the charge.”

“Hardline allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin have called for revenge attacks on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the wake of what Russia claims was a Ukrainian drone strike on the Kremlin,” Insider reports.

“Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and currently the hawkish deputy head of the Security Council, called for the military to ‘physically eliminate’ Zelensky ‘and his clique’ in a message posted on Telegram.”

ProPublica: “Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month. But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow.”

“The exact total Crow paid for Martin’s education over the years remains unclear. If he paid for all four years at the two schools, the price tag could have exceeded $150,000, according to public records of tuition rates at the schools. Thomas did not report the tuition payments from Crow on his annual financial disclosures.”

A.O. Scott on that Tucker Carlson text: “That is a jaw-dropping sentence — as empirically ludicrous as it is ideologically loaded. A glance at American history — taking in night riders, lynch mobs, the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 and the killings of Michael Griffith and Yusef Hawkins in New York in the 1980s, to say nothing of Jan. 6 itself — suggests that this is exactly how white men fight. Not all white men, of course, and not only white men, but white men precisely when they perceive the symbolic and material prerogatives of their whiteness to be under attack.”

Just an amazing scoop by The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger showing then-Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R-GA) soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a billionaire donor who believed he was giving to Walker’s campaign – but the money ended up going to Walker’s personal company:

“Emails obtained by The Daily Beast—and verified as authentic by a person with knowledge of the exchanges—show that Walker asked [Dennis] Washington to wire $535,200 directly to that undisclosed company, HR Talent, LLC.

“In the best possible circumstances, legal experts told The Daily Beast, the emails suggest violations of federal fundraising rules; in the worst case, they could be an indication of more serious crimes, such as wire fraud.”

“According to the legal experts who spoke to The Daily Beast for this article, this scheme appears to not just be illegal—it appears to be unparalleled in its audacity and scope. The transactions raise questions about a slew of possible violations. In fact, these experts all said, the scheme was so brazen that it appears to defy explanation, ranking it among the most egregious campaign finance violations in modern history.”

“U.S. layoffs rose sharply in March and job openings dropped, in signs that demand for workers is cooling a year after the Federal Reserve began lifting interest rates to combat inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Inflation has proved more stubborn than central banks bargained for when prices started surging two years ago,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Now some economists think they know why: Businesses are using a rare opportunity to boost their profit margins.”

“The Fed­eral Re­serve ap­proved an­other quar­ter-per­cent­age-point in­ter­est-rate rise and sig­naled it could be done lift­ing rates af­ter that,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The de­ci­sion Wednes­day marked the Fed’s tenth con­sec­u­tive rate in­crease aimed at bat­tling in­fla­tion and will bring its bench­mark fed­eral-funds rate to a range be­tween 5% and 5.25%, a 16-year high.”

Politico: “Mortgage rates have more than doubled since the Fed’s first rate hike in March 2022, and the average monthly mortgage payment for a ‘typical’ home has risen 50 percent over that period.”

“The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits jumped last week but remain low overall, even as the Federal Reserve has furiously raised interest rates to beat down inflation and cool the labor market,” the AP reports.

“New York has become the first state in the nation to pass a law banning natural gas and other fossil fuels in most new buildings, a move that could inspire other states and further erode the residential future of the gas industry,” the Washington Post reports.

“A Republican proposal to ban abortion after 12 weeks in North Carolina cleared the House in a contentious vote Wednesday evening, less than 24 hours after the bill was announced and released to the public,” the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“The bill was introduced Tuesday as a conference report to an existing bill, which has allowed it to fly through the legislature without having to go through the normal process that typically involves multiple committees and lawmakers offering amendments.”

“The Senate will take up the bill Thursday, and is expected to send it to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has vowed to block it, but will likely see his veto defeated now that Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers.”

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) “signed into law five bills aimed at restricting abortion access,” the Missoulian reports.

“The governor also cited several other abortion-related bills that passed the Legislature and said he plans to sign them when they reach his desk.”

“The Texas Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to allow Gov. Greg Abbott precedent-setting power to overturn elections in Harris County, in order to punish local officials for running out of ballot paper at some polling sites last year,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

“The Florida Legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would shield the travel records of Gov. Ron DeSantis and other top elected officials from public view, a significant change to the state’s vaunted sunshine laws as Mr. DeSantis explores a potential presidential campaign,” the New York Times reports.

Brazil’s Federal Police searched former President Jair Bolsonaro’s home on Wednesday and seized his phone, the AP reports.

“Brazilian police are investigating whether former president Jair Bolsonaro tried to deceive American authorities into wrongly believing the longtime vaccine skeptic had been vaccinated against the coronavirus so he could gain entry to the United States,” the Washington Post reports.

“The police action opened a new line of inquiry into the embattled former president, who narrowly lost his reelection bid to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last year and is now the subject of an increasingly number of investigations that could end his political career and even put him in prison.”

“Prosecutors are nearing a decision on whether to charge President Biden’s son Hunter with tax- and gun-related violations, the culmination of a four-year investigation that Republicans have sought to portray as evidence the Biden family is corrupt,” the Washington Post reports.

Karl Rove: “Like Mr. Biden, President Obama was vulnerable headed into his re-election campaign. His stimulus bill and Affordable Care Act had provoked the populist tea-party revolt. His campaign needed to change the contest from a referendum on Mr. Obama’s performance to a choice between an imperfect incumbent and an unacceptable challenger.”

“The Obama high command quickly swung into action, blasting Mitt Romney well before he had won the long, contentious and costly nomination battle on April 24. Team Obama recognized that extolling Mr. Obama’s first-term record and outlining his vision for the future were insufficient.”

“So on April 11, it opened up on Mr. Romney with an advertising blast depicting the former Massachusetts governor as a heartless plutocrat. Democrats kept this up for nearly seven months, pounding Mr. Romney as filthy rich, out-of-touch and indifferent to people’s everyday struggles—even as mistreating his dog. It worked.”

“Team Biden seems to understand that it needs to focus the 2024 race similarly on savaging the GOP contender. They also obviously know that strategy depends in large part on how vulnerable a target Republicans nominate—hence their fixation on Mr. Trump.”

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

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