Cup of Joe – May 9, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told ABC News there is “no way” to protect the United States’ financial system beyond Congress “doing its job and raising the debt ceiling and enabling us to pay our bills.”

She added: “And we should not get to the point where we need to consider whether the president can go on issuing debt. This would be a constitutional crisis.”

President Biden will host House Speaker McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the debt limit.

“As President Joe Biden meets with the top Republican leaders in Congress this week to discuss the debt ceiling in an effort to avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt, he’s also preparing to take the fight directly to some of the rank-and-file GOP lawmakers whose votes could become crucial,” NBC News reports.

“Biden’s planned campaign-style trip to suburban New York on Wednesday — a day after he meets with congressional leaders — is the latest move in a White House strategy to pressure House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the spending battle in the soft underbelly of his fragile majority: GOP House members in competitive districts Biden carried in November.”

Punchbowl News: “Biden will meet with the Big Four — Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — at the White House tomorrow afternoon. Amazingly, this is the first time the five of them will sit down together while serving in their current roles.”

“Both sides spent the weekend digging in even more on their respective positions. Biden, Schumer and Jeffries insist Congress must pass a clean debt-limit hike first, and then there can be negotiations over spending cuts and budget reforms. McCarthy and McConnell refuse to consider any debt-limit hike without spending cuts.”

“Senior GOP and Democratic sources say this faceoff is likely to continue for the next couple weeks, even with a potential June 1 government default approaching fast. We don’t mean to be alarmist, but the level of confusion and crosstalk here rivals what we saw during the 2011 debt-limit debacle. How this current crisis ends is still unclear.”

Politico: Why McConnell and McCarthy locked arms on the debt crisis.

Just over three weeks to possible default, and there’s no sign of movement.

“President Joe Biden said he was not yet ready to invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid the United States defaulting on its debts as early as June 1, comments which for the first time suggested he has not ruled out the option,” Reuters reports.

Said Biden: “I’ve not gotten there yet.”

“Senior White House officials see enormous risks in trying to resolve the debt ceiling impasse without Congress, viewing the unilateral measures floated by some academics only as emergency measures of last resort,” the Washington Post reports.

“Advisers view the options as risky choices that could cause lasting economic damage.”

A former Biden administration official tells Semafor: “Biden’s team might swallow a compromise if it only involved cuts to discretionary spending, which gets negotiated each year as part of the regular budget process. Among other things, that would take Biden’s climate programs off the chopping block.”

“Donald Trump will not testify in the E. Jean Carroll civil battery and defamation trial after his attorney did not inform the court of any change in strategy before a judge-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. Sunday,” CNN reports.

“The judge said he had ordered the precautionary measure in light of Trump’s public comments suggesting he would make an appearance in court before the trial ended.”

“Attorneys for E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump are set to give closing arguments Monday morning in the battery and defamation trial against the former president in Manhattan federal court,” CNN reports.

“Attorneys for Carroll and Trump rested their respective cases last Thursday. Carroll’s legal team put on 11 witnesses in her case including the writer herself over seven trial days. Trump did not put on a defense and ultimately opted not to testify.”

New York Times: “Although the district attorney’s office is not required to identify the second crime at the outset of the case, Mr. Bragg prosecuted both the lawyer and the insurance broker for additional crimes — including grand larceny — telegraphing why their false records charges were bumped up to felonies. Only the former president, Donald Trump, was indicted for falsifying business records, and no other crimes.”

“A New York Times analysis of about 30 false business records cases brought by Mr. Bragg and his predecessor — based on court records, interviews and information the office provided — shows that in this respect, the case against Mr. Trump stands apart. In all but two of the indictments reviewed by The Times, the defendant was charged with an additional crime on top of the false records charge.”

“The decision to charge Mr. Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records — and no other crimes — highlights the unique nature of the case, the first indictment of a former American president.”

“The suspected mass shooter who killed at least eight people at an Allen, Texas mall on Saturday frequently posted pro-white supremacist and neo-Nazi materials on social media,” Rolling Stone reports. 

Rep. Keith Self (R-TX), who represents the latest community reeling from a mass killing, pushed back on CNN against Americans who say more than prayers are needed to curb the violence, calling them “people that don’t believe in an almighty God,” the Washington Post reports. Said Self: “It is God who is absolutely in control of our lives.”

“At least seven people were killed in Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday after the driver of a vehicle plowed into a crowd of migrants outside a center that serves homeless people,” the New York Times reports.

NBC News: “A senior law enforcement official initially said that authorities believed it was an intentional act. The official later said it’s not clear if it was intentional, and that the investigation into the motive is ongoing.”

“After months of pleading for more gun control measures, a Democrat who represents Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children died in a mass shooting, was told by the Republican leader of the State Senate to stop bringing up gun legislation or be barred from speaking at all,” the New York Times reports.

“In the State House, Republican members talked and joked among themselves as another Democrat, Representative Jarvis Johnson of Houston, rose to discuss gun control.”

“It was only hours later that gunfire again ripped apart the daily life of people in Texas. This time the violence erupted at a popular shopping center in the Dallas suburb of Allen, where a 33-year-old gunman armed with what officials said was an AR-15-style rifle swiftly killed eight people and wounded at least seven others, including at least one child, before a police officer fatally shot him on Saturday.”

Jonathan Chait: “Convinced schools are brainwashing kids to be left-wingers, conservatives are seizing control of the American classroom…”

“Over the past three years, legislators in 28 states have passed at least 71 bills controlling what teachers and students can say and do at school. A wave of library purges, subject-matter restrictions, and potential legal threats against educators has followed.”

“Education has become an obsession on the political right, which now sees it as the central battlefield upon which this country’s future will be settled.”

“Tucker Carlson is out at 8 p.m. on Fox News Channel, and the network hopes that a host of blue-chip advertisers that for years avoided his controversial hour will soon come back in,” Variety reports.

“Since Carlson’s stunning exit last month, a time slot that has been shunned by many Madison Avenue stalwarts seems as if it is being embraced.”

The sentencing memo the Justice Department filed Friday in the Oath Keepers case reflects a deep appreciation for the historic significance of the Jan. 6 insurrection, for what real accountability looks like, and for the ongoing threat to the rule of law that Trump and the far-right represent.

Prosecutors are seeking a 25-year jail sentence for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy.

A key passage from the memo: “Here, the need to deter others is especially strong because these defendants engaged in acts that were intended to influence the government through intimidation or coercion—in other words, terrorism. And they were leaders of such efforts. Because these defendants not only contributed to the attack on the Capitol but helped to organize it, their sentences will be noted by those who would foment such political violence in the future.

Sentencing for the Oath Keepers is scheduled in late May and early June.

Vice News interviewed one of the jurors in the four-month-long Proud Boys trial.  “By the second day we had pretty much established guilty verdicts on the conspiracy, since that was count number one.”

“The Biden administration intends to propose a new rule that would require airlines to compensate passengers when flight plans change drastically due to causes within the carriers’ control,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) has subpoenaed the FBI for June 2020 documents that reportedly include information on “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions,” Punchbowl News reports. Comer said a whistleblower provided the information on the alleged “bribery scheme with a foreign national.”

Kentucky state Rep. Danny Bentley (R) “made comments about Jewish women and the Holocaust during a debate Wednesday over anti-abortion legislation, quickly drawing condemnation from several members of the Jewish community who raised serious concerns with what he said,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

“In the 2022 midterm elections, an unprecedented number of Republican candidates denied or cast doubt on the results of the latest presidential election, spread false conspiracy theories about the nation’s voting systems and, in many cases, questioned the legitimacy of American democracy itself,” the Washington Post reports.

“While a majority of them won, nearly all of the highest-profile candidates lost in what was seen as a national rebuke of the movement. But losing did not seem to deter many of them.”

“Six months later, many are considering a return to the campaign trail or continuing to build popularity and power in conservative circles.”

“The United States is bracing for the expiration of a pandemic-era border restriction this week, with officials fearing it will spur a surge of migrants and exacerbate an already challenging humanitarian crisis at the southern border,” CNN reports.

“President Joe Biden would veto a House GOP bill that aims to restrict asylum, build more border wall and cut a program that allows migrants a chance to stay in the U.S. lawfully for two years,” the AP reports.

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called a special meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus this Thursday to talk about gun violence,” Punchbowl News reports. “The reality, though, is that nothing will pass in this Congress. But Senate Democratic leaders feel they need to take some action.”

“Schumer’s move follows another week of horrific gun violence across the United States.”

President Biden is again asking Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines following a mass shooting in Allen, Texas, on Saturday, Axios reports. Said Biden: “Republican Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

“When President Joe Biden nominated Gigi Sohn to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, the longtime consumer advocate expected to face criticism over her desire to expand free internet access and improve competition among broadband providers,” the AP reports.

“Instead, Sohn found herself the target of an aggressive campaign funded by a conservative group that doesn’t have to disclose its donors. The American Accountability Foundation called Sohn too partisan, anti-police and soft on sex trafficking. The attacks landed — to the point that even some Democrats abandoned her. Sohn withdrew her nomination, ditching her fight for a five-year term as an FCC commissioner.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has heard plenty of warnings from donors, supporters and consultants that he’s foolish for going up against Disney. People love Disney World. Waging this public fight is bad for Florida’s economy. It’s even worse politics, they say,” NBC News reports.

“But Republicans who would make up the voter base in a presidential primary may see it differently. NBC News interviewed nearly three dozen potential voters, strategists and pollsters, finding a picture of a primary electorate that is skeptical of Disney and supportive of DeSantis calling out the corporate behemoth.”

“That finding is bolstered by three surveys that demonstrate support for DeSantis over Disney among Republicans — though DeSantis is taking a much bigger risk once Democrats and independents weigh in.”

“It is a horror show when he’s left to his own devices. So, you may want his policies, but Trump will not deliver Trump policies. He will deliver chaos.”– Former Attorney General William Barr, on C-SPAN.

The Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday sanctioned attorneys for Kari Lake, the 2022 Republican candidate for governor, ordering them to pay thousands of dollars for repeating ‘unequivocally false’ election claims in court,” NBC News reports.

“I have acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom and know more than the vast majority of people. And I’m more experienced than anybody that’s ever run for the office. And I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”  President Biden, addressing his age in a NBC News interview.

A Texas legislative committee recommended Saturday that Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) be expelled for inappropriate sexual conduct with a 19-year-old intern, the AP reports.  Slaton could face an expulsion vote by the full House as early as Tuesday.

“Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will step down from her position on June 30, she announced on Friday,” the New York Times reports.

Voters have told the BBC of their anger at being unable to vote in local elections due to new ID rules.

Former Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) pleaded guilty Friday to bringing a loaded handgun through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport last year, CNN reports.

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

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