Cup of Joe – August 10, 2023

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces unease within his ranks about impeaching President Joe Biden, with some politically vulnerable and centrist Republicans indicating they don’t believe there is enough evidence to take such a drastic step,” NBC News reports.

“Those Republicans are also conflicted about whether to launch a formal inquiry, typically the first step before impeachment proceedings, and their anxieties highlight the practical and political dilemmas that McCarthy and GOP leaders will have to navigate.”

New York Times: “Proposals to censure lawmakers and impeach members of the Biden administration are piling up quickly in the House in an illustration of how once-solemn acts are becoming almost routine as the two parties seize on these procedures as part of their political combat.”

“And the trend is only likely to intensify given the enmity between Republicans and Democrats over a new federal indictment brought against Mr. Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and the G.O.P.’s desire to even the score.”

“The proliferation of censures and cries for impeachment is troubling to some who see it as a threat to the standing of the institution as well as diminishing the weight such punishments are supposed to carry. Censure is the congressional penalty just below expulsion.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been insistent: House Republicans are still gathering evidence and have yet to decide whether to open up a formal impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden,” CNN reports.

“But many House Republicans privately say that it appears to be a foregone conclusion: Biden will face an impeachment inquiry in the fall and could be just the fourth US president ever charged with high crimes or misdemeanors – and that it might all happen by year’s end.”

Associated Press: Republicans are talking up the possibility of impeaching Biden. Is it what voters want to hear?

“As House Republicans appear increasingly likely to pursue an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, one top Republican appears unenthused: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,” Insider reports.

Said McConnell: “I said two years ago, when we had not one but two impeachments, that once we go down this path it incentivizes the other side to do the same thing”

He added: “Impeachment ought to be rare. This is not good for the country.”

“House Republicans have embedded at least 45 anti-LGBTQ+ provisions into must-pass funding bills — many of which would weaken discrimination protections for same-sex couples or restrict gender-affirming care for adults and minors,” The 19th reports.

“The volume and severity of these provisions is an unprecedented attempt by federal lawmakers to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people, activists say.”

“The measures are not likely to make it through the Democrats who control the Senate as Congress finalizes a federal budget. But lawmakers’ willingness to tie these provisions to the federal budget raises the stakes for a community that has already seen its rights rolled back across many states this year. It is not guaranteed that all of the efforts can or will be blocked in the Senate.”

Fox News host Jesse Watters urged House Republicans to not only impeach President Biden but also to schedule the hearings at the same time as Donald Trump’s trials.

Said Watters: “What the Republicans need to do is time the impeachment because that’s the main draw. And if you put up impeachment with the Trump trials, I don’t think the Democrats want to stomach that.”

Semafor: “House Republicans have talked about defunding Jack Smith’s investigation. It’s hard to imagine that succeeding, but what happens if they don’t fund the government at all, triggering a shutdown after next month?”

“Not much, most likely.”

Said Attorney Robert Driscoll: “Most of the criminal stuff is viewed as essential, because you’re dealing with speedy trial rights.”

Republicans are in serious trouble over abortion. 

The overwhelming defeat of Ohio Issue 1 tonight — which would have raised the threshold to pass a state constitutional amendment — is just the latest data point. It seems highly likely that an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in Ohio’s state constitution will pass in November.

From the referendum in Kansas last summer to special elections across the country, fighting to preserve abortion rights issue has helped Democrats outperform virtually everywhere.

Roe v. Wade was an electoral gift to Republicans for more than forty years.

Republicans could mobilize their anti-abortion base without triggering a backlash by the abortion rights majority.

The Supreme Court ended that.

And Republican lawmakers made it worse by actively trying to ban abortion in more than 20 states — often without exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother.

It’s impossible to overstate this: Abortion is a big loser for Republicans.

CNN: “Ohio was once the most important presidential bellwether state on the map. In recent elections, it has shifted right – with former President Donald Trump carrying the Buckeye State twice and Republicans controlling the state government.”

“Tuesday’s outcome demonstrated that despite the state’s rightward drift, Republicans’ opposition to abortion rights continues to hamstring the party – and legislative pushes such as Issue 1 could shift the focus of elections in key states onto politically problematic ground for the GOP.”

New York Times: Ohio vote shows abortion’s potency to reshape elections.

New York Times: “For decades, a majority of Americans supported some form of legalized abortion. But the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade has shifted the political intensity on the issue, reshaping a once mostly-silent coalition of liberal, swing and moderate Republican voters into a political force.”

“It’s a force Democrats are working hard to harness in elections across the country next year, often with ballot measures, and it’s a power Republicans have yet to figure out how to match, or at least manage.”

Michelle Goldberg writes that it’s not just Ohio Republicans that tried to bypass the majority position on abortion rights.

“You can expect to see the blueprint repeated in other places. Already, Republicans in states including Florida, Missouri and North Dakota, recognizing the danger that direct democracy poses to their own abortion bans, are trying to make the ballot initiative process much more onerous.”

Benjy Sarlin: “The next Democratic trifecta in Washington seems more likely than not to reinstate Roe v. Wade via legislation, whether it’s two years or twenty years from now. And once that happens, there may not be a Republican majority with enough political will to ever fully reverse it — at least not if elections keep looking like they did in Ohio on Tuesday night.”

“Those are the stakes, and as one social conservative put it as the votes came in, it’s ‘a five-alarm fire for the pro-life movement.’”

Donald Trump said he expects to be hit with new criminal charges by next week stemming from an Atlanta prosecutor’s investigation of his efforts to overturn his loss in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, CNBC reports.

Said Trump: “I probably have another… I should have four by some time next week.”

With another indictment looming, Donald Trump claimed that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis was racist against white people.  He then spread false rumors about her sex life.

“The fourth criminal case involving Donald Trump is likely to come to a head next week, with the district attorney in Atlanta expected to take the findings from her election interference investigation to a grand jury,” the New York Times reports.

“The Georgia investigation may be the most expansive legal challenge yet to the efforts that Mr. Trump and his advisers undertook to keep him in power after he lost the 2020 election. Nearly 20 people are known to have been told that they could face charges as a result of the investigation, which Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., has pursued for two and a half years.”

“Ms. Willis has signaled that she would seek indictments from a grand jury in the first half of August.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was at the hospital, after tripping and falling Tuesday in her home city of San Francisco, TMZ reports.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday suspended Monique Worrell, the state attorney for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, accusing her of under-prosecuting criminals in her jurisdiction,” CNBC reports.

New York Times: “It is the second time in a year that Mr. DeSantis, a Republican running for president, has taken the drastic and exceedingly rare step of removing an elected state attorney. Both have been Democrats.”

Florida’s Department of Education has approved classroom use of videos that spout climate disinformation and distort climate science, Scientific American reports.

“U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan scheduled a hearing for Friday at 10 a.m. ET on the scope of a protective order – the rules imposed for the handling of evidence – in the special counsel’s election subversion case against former President Donald Trump,” CNN reports.

“Lawyers for former President Donald Trump told a judge they want a hearing for a protective order sought by prosecutors in his criminal election case delayed until next week, despite the judge asking both sides to offer her dates on or before Friday,” CNBC reports.

Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed that he “will talk” about the criminal charges he faces over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and accused federal prosecutors of “taking away my First Amendment rights,” NBC News reports.

Donald Trump’s legal team didn’t like President Biden’s “Dark Brandon” tweet claiming it is a “thinly veiled reference” to the criminal charges against Trump.

“Security for the federal judge assigned to oversee the criminal case against former President Donald Trump over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election has been increased in the federal courthouse in Washington, DC,” CNN reports.

“CNN has observed more security detailed to Judge Tanya Chutkan, and deputy US Marshals discussed security plans for the judge on Monday.”

By any reasonable measure at this point in the campaign, Donald Trump’s odds of winning re-election in 2024 are probably significantly better than winning the criminal cases against him.

And winning re-election is Trump’s key to staying out of prison since he could then shut down the federal cases pending against him.

That’s why Trump will do everything he can to delay the cases until after the election.

Special counsel Jack Smith is trying to move forward on the latest case — Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election — as quickly as possible. One way he can do that is to provide pre-trial discovery to Trump as soon as possible.

But before Smith turns over the documents, he wants Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a protective order so that Trump can’t misuse the discovery process by talking about the case in the media. 

Naturally, Trump has objected to the government’s protective order.

The judge will now hold a hearing before the end of the week to hear the arguments from both sides. Given Trump’s history, Smith should mostly prevail in the proceeding.

But Trump will have won by delaying the case by another week.

“The public’s attention to former President Trump’s legal drama has declined with each subsequent indictment, according to new data pulled across television, social media and search activity,” Axios reports.

Said professor Jay Rosen: “The bombast and howling accusations after each charge, the lurid threats and endless victimologies, the mind numbing repetition of it all… is supposed to do just that: numb the mind so that sense making feels impossible and paying attention seems pointless.”

David Graham: “In some ways, Donald Trump’s mental state is more transparent than nearly any public figure’s: He has no shame, little discretion, and ample channels to broadcast his feelings in real time. Yet his constant stream of consciousness and always elevated dudgeon make it hard to parse the finer fluctuations in his mood.”

“Even so, the former president’s public behavior since Special Counsel Jack Smith indicted him last week suggests a man feeling cornered. This isn’t to say that Trump is cornered—his ability to escape tough situations makes him the envy of every house cat—but his handling of the case suggests a man rattled in a way he seldom has been before…”

“But what neither he nor his allies have done is offer a coherent account of his actions—one that would suggest that he didn’t conspire to overthrow the duly elected government. This is likely for the simple reason that he conspired to overthrow the duly elected government.”

“Special counsel Jack Smith’s probe of efforts by Donald Trump and others to subvert the 2020 election remains ongoing — with at least one interview this week that focused on fundraising and spending by Trump’s political action committee,” Politico reports.

“The special counsel has long been thought to be scrutinizing whether Trump or his PAC violated federal laws by raising money off claims of voter fraud they knew were false.”

“The Supreme Court revived the Biden administration’s restrictions on so-called ghost guns in a 5-4 emergency ruling on Tuesday,” The Hill reports.

“The justices agreed to pause a lower court’s decision, which invalidated the regulation nationwide, as the administration continues its appeal.”

“A federal judge on Monday dismissed a defamation counterclaim by Donald Trump against the writer E. Jean Carroll in her pending lawsuit that accuses the former president of defaming her after she wrote that he had raped her,” CNBC reports. “Judge Lewis Kaplan, in a separate order made public Monday, ruled that Carroll’s lawyers can give the Manhattan District Attorney’s office a videotape and transcript of their deposition of Trump that they took last fall for the lawsuit.”

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan noted once again that a jury did find Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll during an encounter in the dressing room of a New York City department store in the mid-1990s, and the details of that finding show that her having maintained that Trump raped her is “substantially true,” NBC News reports.

Gerard Baker: “For a political class that likes to think of itself as a hardened cadre of cold-eyed realists, the leadership of the Republican Party has indulged in comically wishful thinking about the most consequential figure in recent political history.”

“When Donald Trump emerged on the political stage to lead his improbable insurgency of the dispossessed, most top Republicans assumed he was a joke and could never win. The party’s senators, who wouldn’t recognize an insurgency if it were presented to their nether regions on the sharp end of a pitchfork, with one exception dismissed him as a carnival barker.”

“When the iron duly entered their hides—if not their souls—they hurriedly made their peace with their new leader. When, against the odds (and, one suspects, the wishes of more than a few of them), he won the presidency, the wishing only intensified. Some believed, or hoped, that somehow the office would become him, that the mystical mingling of the man and the presidency would elevate the former rather than debase the latter. How did that work out?”

House Democrats have sidelined Rep. David Scott (D-GA), the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, in negotiations over the food stamps program, Politico reports.

“Scott’s colleagues have been raising concerns with House leadership since last year about the 78-year-old Georgia Democrat’s health and ability to steer the committee minority through a critical period for agriculture policy. The farm bill is a once-every-five year package that will divvy up roughly $1 trillion in funding across programs to combat hunger, support farming, promote conservation and serve rural communities.”

In a sexual harassment lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani, audio transcripts of him saying “exactly the kind of things he denied saying” were released today, Rolling Stone reports.

An example: “Jewish men have small cocks because they can’t use them after they get married. Whereas the Italian use them all their lives so they get bigger.”

Another: “Jews. They want to go through that freaking Passover all the time. Man, oh, man. Get over the Passover. It was like 3,000 years ago. Okay, the Red Sea parted. Big deal. Not the first time that happened.”

Rudy Giuliani has listed his Upper East Side apartment for $6.5 millionInsider: “It’s not clear why Giuliani is selling the unit, which he has owned for several decades. He appears to have recorded episodes of his podcast from the unit as recently as last week.”

Charlie Sykes: “When President Gerald Ford issued a pardon to outgoing President Richard Nixon, he could reasonably assume that Nixon would go more or less quietly into exile. He was not the avatar of a mass movement that continues to lay siege to democratic institutions.”

“Trump on the other hand…”

“Does anyone seriously believe that a pardon would disarm Trump, or calm the base into rationality and respect for democratic norms? Does anyone (anyone? anyone?) think that he would — as Susan Collins so famously and wrongly claimed — ‘learn his lesson’?”

“Would a pardon put a stop to his firehose of demagoguery, invective, abuse, and attacks on the ‘deep state‘ and the criminal justice system? Does anyone seriously think that a pardon would lance the boil of revanchist Trumpism?”

 July was officially the hottest month ever recorded, the Financial Times reports.

President Biden will sit down for an interview with the Weather Channel to discuss his climate agenda today during his trip to the Grand Canyon.

Biden in a new interview says he has ‘in practice’ declared a national climate emergency, though he has not actually announced such a declaration, The Hill reports.

CNN: “The sea ice has not returned to anywhere near expected levels. In fact it is at the lowest levels for this time of year since records began 45 years ago. The ice is around 1.6 million square kilometers (0.6 million square miles) below the previous winter record low set in 2022.”

“In mid-July, Antarctica’s sea ice was 2.6 million square kilometers (1 million square miles) below the 1981 to 2010 average. That is an area nearly as large as Argentina or the combined areas of Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.”

Politico: “With extreme and growing heat waves almost certainly fueled by climate change, Arizona might, in theory, be the kind of place where lawmakers grapple with this new reality. But the politics of climate change are just as paralyzed here as the rest of the country. Or perhaps it’s even worse.”

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

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