Cup of Joe – May 10, 2023

“A Manhattan jury on Tuesday has found Donald Trump liable for the sexual abuse of the magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in a widely watched civil trial,” the New York Times reports.

“After only three hours of deliberation, the jury determined that Carroll had proven Trump sexually abused her, but they rejected the accusation that she had been raped.”

The jury awarded Carroll a total of $5 million in damages.

Washington Post: “Carroll smiled as the verdict from the nine-person civil jury was announced Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan court.”

Ryan Goodman and Norm Eisen: “The unanimous jury verdict that has turned Donald Trump from an alleged sexual assaulter into a proven one may create political shockwaves if recent history is any guide.”

“As numerous empirical studies have shown, the American public has come to view sexual assault as a form of abusing power that can disqualify a perpetrator from holding public office. Trump may suffer significant political damage from this new majoritarian understanding.”

Sarah Longwell: “One of the peculiar pathologies of Republican-primary politics is that even Trump’s competition feels unable to criticize him. Case in point: After Trump was indicted, DeSantis called the move ‘un-American,’ Pence called it ‘an outrage,’ and Haley said it was ‘more about revenge than it is about justice.’”

“They are in a trap of their own making. For eight years, Republican leaders have defended Trump at every turn—from the Access Hollywood tape to ‘very fine people on both sides.’ From the first impeachment to January 6 to the second impeachment.”

“They thought that by covering for Trump they were tapping into his power, but they were actually giving away their own—mortgaging themselves and their reputations to Trump’s lies and depravities. By defending him then, they have made it impossible to credibly accuse him of anything now.”

Donald Trump on Truth Social: “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace — a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”

Trump is still scheduled to appear on a live “town hall” meeting from New Hampshire tomorrow night on CNN.

Donald Trump on Truth Social: “Very unfair trial!”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Tuesday shot down the idea of moving a short-term debt ceiling hike to prevent a government default, The Hill reports.

McCarthy (R-CA) said he “didn’t see any new movement” toward ending debt ceiling impasse in meeting at the White House with President Biden and other congressional leaders, the AP reports. He added: “Everybody in this meeting reiterated the positions they long held.”

“Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned he won’t come to President Joe Biden’s rescue on the debt limit by breaking a partisan deadlock as a catastrophic U.S. default looms,” Bloomberg reports.

Said McConnell: “They’re assuming there’s some little secret plan here. The White House and the speaker’s teams need to sit down now and settle it.”

Wall Street Journal: Biden and GOP not budging on debt ceiling.

President Biden will meet with congressional leaders this afternoon to discuss the impending debt ceiling. It’s by far the biggest political story right now and the consequences are enormous. But the media coverage will be tough to take.

News stories this morning rightly describe today’s meeting as “high stakes” and a “critical face-to-face confrontation.” But negotiations are never good news stories because it’s tough to gauge progress. Since reporters aren’t in the room, they’re subject to leaks from each side trying to press their point.

As David Kurtz points out: “Every negotiation is different, but rarely do they satisfy the demands of news coverage for movement, dynamism, and incremental developments. Instead, negotiations are typically slow, tedious, and not much happens until suddenly it happens.”

Today’s meeting is the start of those negotiations. It’s also the start of some very boring — and potentially misleading — media coverage. That doesn’t make the story less important, but it will seem tedious.

“Five months after he grabbed the gavel, this week marks the start of a defining challenge of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s two decades in elected office: whether he can strike a deal with President Joe Biden that averts an unprecedented debt default and quells the hard-right conservatives ready to revolt against him,” NBC News reports.

“Failing to raise the debt limit in the next three weeks could be catastrophic for the U.S. economy, but neglecting to secure the spending cuts his right flank pushed for could spell doom for McCarthy’s career.”

“Two new analyses are backing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s forecast that the nation could default on its debt – and unleash economic chaos – as soon as early June if Congress doesn’t act,” CNN reports.

“The projections, which are roughly in line with those issued last week by Yellen and the Congressional Budget Office, add to the pressure on House Republicans and President Joe Biden, who may have only a few weeks to hammer out their vast differences over addressing the debt ceiling.”

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is on a plane en route to Washington on Tuesday afternoon and could return to the U.S. Capitol as early as Tuesday evening, after a more than two-month health-related absence from the Senate,” the Washington Post reports.

Philip Elliot: “To say Feinstein, now 89, is facing mounting pressure to resign would be to undersell the swelling frustration even among her biggest fans, both in progressive circles and in the Senate Dining Room.”

“If anything, Feinstein is fast becoming a masterclass in how to spoil a legacy, one that should be taught in books about leadership for decades. Her and her office are providing a stunning demonstration in how to soil an inevitable obituary with tales of missteps rather than of purpose, and how to willfully ignore the well-meaning nudges that have been coming for years now.”

“Nearly 610,000 student loan borrowers have received debt relief from the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program since October 2021, when the Biden administration temporarily expanded eligibility,” CNN reports.

“The program promises to wipe away remaining federal student loan debt after an eligible government or nonprofit worker makes 10 years of monthly payments.”

“Another 6,000 borrowers in the program will see their loans discharged soon. Altogether, those cancellations will total $42 billion of federal student debt.”

Politico: “As Russia’s paramilitary organization, the Wagner Group, expands its presence in African countries, the Biden administration is pushing back with one of its prized tactics: sharing sensitive intelligence with allies in Africa in an attempt to dissuade countries from partnering with the group.”

“The administration has used this tactic with increasing frequency, including in the months leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. It serves the dual function of alerting allies to looming threats and placing adversaries on notice that the U.S. knows what they’re doing.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday told his country’s Victory Day parade on Moscow’s Red Square that ‘a real war’ has been unleashed against Russia by the West’s ‘untamed ambitions,’ shortly after the Kremlin’s forces rained cruise missiles on Ukrainian targets,” the AP reports.

Associated Press: “Prosecutors linked the spying operation to a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, and accused the hackers of stealing documents from hundreds of computer systems belonging to governments of NATO members, an unidentified journalist for a U.S. news organization who reported on Russia, and other select targets of interest to the Kremlin.”

“The New York state judge presiding over the criminal hush money case against Donald Trump issued an order Monday restricting the former president from posting about some evidence in the case on social media,” NBC News reports.

“In his order, Judge Juan Merchan largely sided with the Manhattan district attorney by limiting what Trump can publicly disclose about new evidence from the prosecution before the case goes to trial.”

President Biden will travel today to a New York congressional district he won in 2020, but that is now represented by a Republican, Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), the AP reports.

Though Biden is traveling to the area to lambaste House Republicans, Lawler said that he accepted the invite from the White House — “maybe to their surprise” — to appear alongside the president.

Said Lawler: “He’s coming to my district, specifically to talk about the most pressing issue.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Republican megadonor Harlan Crow to provide a list of gifts and trips he gave Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as scrutiny grows over their friendship, The Hill reports.

“Billionaire Harlan Crow has refused to comply with a request by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden for a complete accounting of Crow’s gifts to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” Politico reports.

“Wyden’s next steps could include subpoenaing Crow for the requested records or using a section of the tax code that vests the chairs of Congress’ tax committees with the authority to obtain a private citizen’s tax returns directly from Treasury — a power that House Democrats used last year to publish the taxes of former President Donald Trump.”

Axios: “Hungary’s Viktor Orbán is something of a godfather to the most conservative elements of the GOP, as his harsh policies on immigrants, transgender people, voting rights and other issues have encouraged U.S. conservatives to push for similar laws.”

“Orbán’s influence in U.S. politics has become particularly clear in the past couple of years — from the waves of anti-transgender bills in state legislatures, to Republicans’ ‘anti-woke’ agendas, to Orbán being embraced by conservative commentators such as former Fox Newser Tucker Carlson.”

“Since he was elected in 2010, Orbán has reshaped Hungary’s democracy, changing election laws to make it more difficult to oust him and using racially tinged, divisive rhetoric to inspire his most dedicated supporters.”

“Call it the Trump Law of Inverse Reactions: Everything that would seem to hurt the former president only makes him stronger,” Axios reports.

“Trump’s grip over Republicans seems stronger than ever — and chances of beating President Biden are as high as ever.”

“For the first time in a long time, top Republicans and Democrats are telling us the same thing, in the same words — Trump looks impossible to beat for the Republican nomination.”

Out this fall: Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party by Jonathan Karl.

Karl to Axios: “From his exile in Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump has engineered a remarkable comeback. He left the White House as a disgraced and defeated president in January 2021 and managed to once again become the dominant figure in the Republican Party.”

“Pakistan’s ousted prime minister, Imran Khan, was arrested on Tuesday in a major escalation of a political crisis that raises the prospect of mass unrest by his steadfast supporters,” the New York Times reports.

“The crisis has been building for months as Mr. Khan has openly challenged the Pakistani military and the current government, saying they are conspiring against him. The military on Monday accused the former leader of making false accusations against a senior intelligence official.”

“A far-right faction that has gained clout in the Georgia GOP wants to give the state party new powers to block candidates from qualifying to run as Republicans if they’re deemed to be insufficiently conservative or a ‘traitor’ to the party,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The rule change is being championed by leaders of the Georgia Republican Assembly, a conservative faction that has vilified Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other Republicans who rejected Donald Trump’s demands to overturn his election defeat.”

“Under the proposed rule change, the Georgia GOP convention could vote to prevent a political candidate from qualifying to run as a Republican in the next election, giving the state party’s 1,500 or so delegates authority to pick favorites in top races.”

“In a surprise move days after the Allen mall shooting and hours before a key legislative deadline, a Texas House committee advanced a bill Monday that would raise the minimum age to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“The bill faces an uphill climb to becoming state law, but the vote marked a milestone for the proposal that relatives of Uvalde shooting victims have been pushing for months.”

“Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) has resigned from his seat, one day before his colleagues were slated to vote on whether to expel him from the Texas House of Representatives after a committee unanimously recommended his dismissal over allegations of sexual misconduct with a 19-year-old aide,” the AP reports.

Slaton wrote in his resignation letter that he was looking forward to “spending more time with my young family” and would continue to “find ways to serve my community.”

“Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) on Monday announced that he would call lawmakers back to the state’s Capitol on Aug. 21 for a special session after the Republican-led Legislature adjourned earlier this year without taking on gun control,” ABC News reports.

“The announcement comes weeks after six people — including three young children — were killed in a Nashville school shooting. The tragedy sparked Lee, a Republican, to urge the General Assembly to pass legislation that would keep firearms away from people who could harm themselves or others. But instead, GOP leaders moved to quickly adjourn rather than take up the governor’s request in the remaining days of an already chaotic session.”

“The leader of a major anti-abortion group aligned herself Monday with former President Donald Trump on the issue, just weeks after raising questions about his commitment to restricting access to the procedure,” the AP reports.

“Calling her meeting Monday with Trump ‘terrific,’ Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group, said in a statement that he ‘reiterated that any federal legislation protecting these children would need to include the exceptions for life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest.’”

“A former Navy reservist who the government said expressed admiration for Hitler, among other antisemitic views, was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” ABC News reports.

Rolling Stone: “Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers militia, is facing sentencing as the ringleader of a seditious conspiracy on Jan. 6, 2021 to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.”

“The government is seeking to lock up Rhodes for the next 25 years. But Rhodes is arguing he should get a lenient sentence of ‘time served’ out of respect for his history of ‘good works,’ by which he means — and we swear we’re not making this up — creating the Oath Keepers in the first place.”

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

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