Cup of Joe – July 15, 2023

“A divided House voted on Thursday to restrict abortion access, bar transgender health services and limit diversity training for military personnel, potentially imperiling passage of the annual defense bill as Republicans, goaded by their right flank, loaded the measure with conservative policy dictates,” the New York Times reports.

“The House voted 221 to 213 to overturn a Pentagon policy guaranteeing abortion access to service members regardless of where they are stationed, with Republicans propelling it to passage over near-unanimous Democratic opposition.”

“By a vote of 222 to 211, the House also adopted a measure to bar the military’s health plan from covering gender-transition surgeries — which currently can be covered only with a waiver — and gender-affirming hormone therapy. And the chamber voted 214 to 213 to eliminate the Pentagon’s offices of diversity, equity and inclusion, along with all of their personnel.”

Washington Post: House GOP moves to end Pentagon’s abortion, diversity policies.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP leaders are moving into uncharted territory,” Punchbowl News reports.

“McCarthy has thrown in with the House Freedom Caucus and other hardline conservatives, turning the normally bipartisan annual defense authorization bill into a culture war battlefield. This is expected to be the same template McCarthy will use on the upcoming FY2024 spending bills, even as the threat of a government shutdown looms in October.”

The House passed the defense authorization bill on a nearly party-line vote, 219 to 210 — a big win for Republican leaders.

Several controversial amendments were added to the bill addressing abortion, transgender medical care and diversity initiatives.

The House bill will go nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attempted to set up a call with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today, but the senator’s office declined, saying he did not have time for a call today or this weekend, CNN reports.

Tuberville has complained that Austin has not tried to reach him about his hold on military nominations in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion policy.

“Vice President Kamala Harris has tied the record for tie-breaking votes in the Senate that was set nearly 191 years ago by John C. Calhoun,” Roll Call reports.

“U.S. consumer sentiment soared in early July to an almost two-year high, bolstered by easing inflation and a strong labor market,” Bloomberg reports. “The University of Michigan preliminary index rose by 8.2 points to 72.6, the highest since September 2021. The reading topped all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, and the monthly advance was the largest since 2006.”

“The IRS is showcasing its new capability to aggressively audit high-income tax dodgers as it makes the case for sustained funding and tries to avert budget cuts sought by Republicans who want to gut the agency,” the AP reports.

“IRS leaders said they collected $38 million in delinquent taxes from more than 175 high-income taxpayers in the past few months.”

“President Biden jokingly warned Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin to watch what he eats following a failed coup in Russia last month after Prigozhin briefly led a revolt with his private military,” The Hill reports.

Said Biden: “If I were he, I’d be careful what I ate; I’d keep my eye on my menu.”

“I told them they could continue under their true leader, and many of them were nodding in agreement, but because Prigozhin himself was sitting in front, he could not see this and said, ‘no, my guys do not accept this.’” — Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoted by the Moscow Times, on offering Wagner Grouip mercenaries a chance to continue serving after their failed mutiny.

“Five House Republican-backed initiatives to curtail aid to Ukraine using the annual Pentagon policy bill were shot down Thursday afternoon in votes that saw a consensus from both sides of the aisle to keep money flowing to Kyiv,” The Hill reports.

“A super PAC aligned with former President Donald Trump paid Melania Trump $155,000 in late 2021, an unusual payment that was not visible in the group’s initial federal reports and came to light only in a new filing by Mr. Trump on Thursday,” the New York Times reports.

“The money was listed as pay for a ‘speaking engagement’ by Ms. Trump in the new filing.”

“Multiple former senior Trump White House officials have testified before a federal grand jury in the special counsel’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” ABC News reports.

“Among the group that has testified are former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former White House senior advisor Jared Kushner and former top Trump aide Hope Hicks.”

“Federal prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks — including Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — about whether Mr. Trump had privately acknowledged in the days after the 2020 election that he had lost,” the New York Times reports.

“The line of questioning suggests prosecutors are trying to establish whether Mr. Trump was acting with corrupt intent as he sought to remain in power — essentially that his efforts were knowingly based on a lie — evidence that could substantially bolster any case they might decide to bring against him.”

“Mr. Kushner testified before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Washington last month, where he is said to have maintained that it was his impression that Mr. Trump truly believed the election was stolen.”

An attorney for Hunter Biden sent a cease-and-desist letter on Thursday to former President Donald Trump’s legal team, claiming that Trump’s rhetoric on social media and elsewhere “could lead to Hunter Biden’s or his family’s injury,” ABC News reports.

“On Thursday Twitter announced that it would begin sharing ad revenue with content creators on its platform for the first time. But the offer won’t apply to all creators,” the Washington Post reports.

“The first beneficiaries appear to be string of high profile far right influencers who tweeted before the announcement how much they’ve earned as part of the program.”

“U.S. authorities on Thursday arrested Alex Mashinsky, the former CEO of failed crypto lending platform Celsius Network, on fraud charges while regulators levied a host of allegations of their own against him and other executives,” Politico reports.

“Investigators from the House Ethics Committee have begun reaching out to witnesses as part of a recently revived investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, focused on allegations that he may have engaged in sexual misconduct, illicit drug use or other misconduct,” CNN reports.

“The special counsel investigating former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents has taken new steps to examine possible efforts to obstruct the probe, threatening potential charges against a Trump Organization employee who is suspected of lying to investigators,” ABC News reports.

“Special counsel Jack Smith in recent weeks transmitted a target letter to the staffer indicating that he might have perjured himself during a May appearance before the federal grand jury hearing evidence in the classified documents probe.”

“The target letter to the employee… signals Smith’s growing interest in the Trump Organization’s handling of the surveillance footage and potential efforts to avoid sharing it with investigators.”

“Special counsel Jack Smith’s team sharply rebuked Donald Trump’s bid to postpone until after the 2024 election his criminal trial for allegedly hoarding classified documents, characterizing the former president’s call for delay as unfounded and one of his key legal arguments as ‘borderline frivolous,’” Politico reports.

Marcy Wheeler looks at the special counsel’s filing and concludes: “The government really did have this prosecution all prepped to go.”

Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) was blasted by colleagues in the House of Representative after he used the term “colored people” to describe Black Americans in a debate on the House floor, the Arizona Republic reports.  Crane said he misspoke in a statement he issued later.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “has urged the policymaking body for the federal courts to end a case assignment system that he says allows parties to select their judges, escalating an effort to enact change at the federal judiciary,” the New York Times reports.

“The letter is the latest push by Democratic lawmakers to amend so-called single-judge divisions, a system in which all cases filed in a particular geographic region are assigned to one judge. The practice essentially allows plaintiffs to select which judge hears a case by filing a lawsuit in a particular division, Mr. Schumer said, pointing to the Northern District of Texas as an example.”

“Democrats in Congress are making a fresh push for the nearly century-old Equal Rights Amendment to be enshrined in the Constitution, rallying around a creative legal theory in a bid to revive an amendment that would explicitly guarantee sex equality as a way to protect reproductive rights in post-Roe America,” the New York Times reports.

“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Representative Cori Bush of Missouri are set to introduce a joint resolution on Thursday stating that the measure has already been ratified and is enforceable as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. The resolution states that the national archivist, who is responsible for the certification and publication of constitutional amendments, must immediately do so.”

“The number of migrants who crossed he U.S.- Mexico border without authorization in June plummeted to the lowest level since the start of the Biden administration following the enactment of stricter asylum rules,” CBS News reports.

“Border Patrol agents recorded just over 100,000 apprehensions last month of migrants who entered the U.S. illegally along the southern border, a sharp drop from the 169,000 apprehensions reported in May.”

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that he could see one or two Secret Service agents at a time working shifts inside a prison to protect Donald Trump, Tickle The Wire reports.

Said Holder: “You for instance would not have to have a whole retinue, all of the Secret Service detail that is responsible for the former president’s security inside the prison. They work in shifts. Those people who are on the shift would be the ones who would potentially be with him… certainly be a low-security prison.”

He added: “So, the possibilities I think are there for a Secret Service person or two… to be with him during the time that he would be in prison.”

“Donald Trump disclosed new details about roughly $1 billion in earnings in a revised financial filing covering much of his post-presidency, including money from foreign ventures, speaking fees and a Florida golf course,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump reported several hundred sources of income in an initial April financial disclosure but provided only broad ranges for the income he received from each source. The revised Trump filing provides new details, such as a dollar amount for nearly a hundred sources of income, including his largest ones, which sum to over $1.2 billion.”

“The polling leader for the Republican nomination in 2024 disclosed more specific earnings from speaking fees than previously known, including at least $2 million for speaking at events hosted by Hak Ja Han Moon and a group she co-founded with her husband Sun Myung Moon, the late leader of the Unification Church, and $2.5 million from a company with the same name as one that organized a boxing match that Trump commentated on.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said “there is no way in hell” she will attend Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress next week, USA Today reports.

“Logan Roy made a good point. These are not serious people.”— Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), when asked about the House GOP effort to “expunge” Donald Trump’s two impeachments.

Washington Post: “Teenagers have discovered the ease with which they can acquire the parts for a ghost gun, and they have been buying, building and shooting the homemade guns with alarming frequency.”

“Georgia state Rep. Mesha Mainor switched political parties Tuesday, joining Republicans after saying she faced “harassment and intimidation” from Democrats since she broke with the party on votes for private school vouchers and prosecutor oversight,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Donald Trump Jr. has been sent a subpoena seeking his testimony in an upcoming civil trial over Michael Cohen’s claim that the Trump Organization failed to pay his legal fees when he started cooperating with investigators,” The Messenger reports. 

A federal judge on Thursday threatened Rudy Giuliani with contempt of court and other “severe sanctions” after failing to provide key evidence in a defamation suit, The Messenger reports. The judge also ordered Giuliani to pay an estimated $90,000 in attorney fees. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. praised Donald Trump, saying the leading GOP presidential candidate is “probably the most successful debater in this country since Lincoln-Douglas,” The Hill reports.

Louisa Terrell, a top aide to President Joe Biden and his director of legislative affairs, plans to step down from her position, Politico reports.

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

2 comments on “Cup of Joe – July 15, 2023

  1. cassandram

    Rep. Sean Casten provides some details of further atrocities that are in the House NDAA — including eliminating the penalty for not taking a COVID vaccine and claiming that the Constitution is non-racist.

  2. cassandram

    Crane definitely did not “misspeak” when he spoke of colored people on the floor of the house. You can completely hear how comfortable he was with the phrase — he says that on the regular.

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