Cup of Joe – September 27, 2023

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s closely watched alliance with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is suddenly looking a little bit wobbly, as the Georgia hardliner has helped frustrate his efforts to pass a budget,” Semafor reports.

Politico: “Schumer started advancing a shell late last week to serve as the vehicle for a stopgap bill that would keep the government open past Saturday. Behind the scenes, Senate party leaders are hashing out the specifics so that they can move to final passage as soon as possible this week.”

“And that means moving quickly. The House is set to vote late Tuesday on four spending bills that – let’s be clear – may not even pass along party lines and still would not address the shutdown that looms at week’s end.”

“Senators are still discussing what its government funding patch will look like, but don’t be surprised if it’s short — think around four to six weeks — and pretty darn clean.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his allies are 24 hours away from their next big gamble in Congress’ spending crisis. It’s still not clear they have the votes,” Politico reports.

“House GOP leaders on Tuesday will try to move forward on four spending bills jam-packed with conservative wins that would do nothing to avert a shutdown that looms Saturday at midnight. Given united Democratic opposition, McCarthy can’t lose more than a handful of Republican votes.”

“The speaker is projecting confidence that he’s flipped enough of the five Republican holdouts who voted against a similar vote just last week, as the Californian makes yet another attempt to get his fractured conference on the same page. Some leadership allies still have doubts, however, and are wary of another humiliating defeat on the floor as the shutdown ticks closer.”

“Six days from now, we’ll either see a government shutdown putting millions of federal employees on furlough — or an 11th hour bipartisan spending agreement that could trigger an effort to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House,” Politico reports.

“For McCarthy, the developing situation is something of a Catch-22.”

“If McCarthy pursues the hard-right approach favored by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and a handful of other members — passing GOP-written bills packed with spending cuts and conservative policy riders — it is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. A shutdown is inevitable.”

“If, instead, McCarthy passes a bipartisan continuing resolution to keep the government open, it likely imperils his speakership by decisively turning the House’s hardline conservatives against him. A motion to vacate is inevitable.”

Reuters: House to press forward with spending cuts despite shutdown risk.

Punchbowl News: “The Senate leadership’s goal is to pass something that McCarthy can reasonably put on the floor to avert an Oct. 1 shutdown. However, this plan would require House Democratic votes for passage. That risks a rebellion from McCarthy’s right flank, which has voiced staunch opposition to a clean CR.”

“It’s tough to overstate the jam McCarthy would be in here. The Senate’s CR would almost certainly pass with a large bipartisan majority. But putting this measure on the House floor could easily push conservative hardliners into trying to oust McCarthy.”

“This may look like a lifeline for McCarthy — and, under normal circumstances, it would be. But some in his conference will see putting this proposal on the floor as a betrayal…”

“But the big news here is that Congress could be trying to punt the Ukraine fight until at least November, when lawmakers would likely have to enact another CR to buy more time to pass FY2024 appropriations bills.”

President Biden’s campaign hit House Republicans for heeding Donald Trump’s calls to dig in on a government shutdown if they don’t get “everything,” The Hill reports.

Said a spokesman: “House Republicans are gleefully letting Donald Trump function as their chief political strategist at the expense of American families. Trump’s behavior is shameful, but unsurprising from someone who has demonstrated he couldn’t care less about the American people.”

Punchbowl News: “Several House conservatives are rallying around former President Donald Trump’s repeated calls to oppose a short-term stopgap funding bill as Congress faces a government shutdown deadline in just five days.”

“Multiple House Republicans have shared Trump’s messages on social media, touting his support for them on ‘holding the line’ against a continuing resolution.”

Donald Trump accused President Biden of copying him by planning a Michigan visit on Tuesday amid an auto workers’ strike, saying it was a direct response to Trump’s own plans to be in the state on Wednesday.

He also included a message to autoworkers: “Remember, he wants to take your jobs away and give them to China and other foreign countries. Turn your back on this corrupt and highly incompetent president, by far the worst in the history of the United States, and shout out to your union leadership to endorse Donald J. Trump. I will keep your jobs and make you rich!!!”

Washington Post: “Biden comes at the invitation of union leaders. Trump came despite their warnings to keep his distance.”

“I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out.”— Donald Trump, quoted in Cassidy Hutchinson’s new book, to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 presidential election.

CNN: “In her new book Enough, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson paints the closing days of the Trump White House as even more chaotic and lawless than she previously disclosed in her shocking televised testimony last summer. President Donald Trump lashes out unpredictably and makes wild demands. Chief of staff Mark Meadows leaks classified documents to friendly right-wing media figures and burns documents. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani gropes Hutchinson inappropriately the day of the Capitol insurrection.”

“She also depicts major Republican figures, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, stating clearly behind the scenes what they refrained from telling the American people: that Joe Biden won the presidential election and Trump lost.”

She quotes Meadows in June 2020: “Cass, if I can get through this job and manage to keep Trump out of jail, I’ll have done a good job.”

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson denied on MSNBC dating Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), as Gaetz has alleged. Said Hutchinson: “I will say on behalf of myself, I never dated Matt Gaetz. I have much higher standards in men.” Hutchinson also alleges in her new book that Gaetz groped her on two occasions.

“As Phil Murphy has skillfully navigated New Jersey Democrats to separate themselves from this debacle, the Senate caucus needs to do the same. Otherwise you’re going to get candidates in competitive states like Montana and West Virginia having to answer questions about Menendez and whether he represents a problem in the party.”— Former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), quoted by Politico, urging Democrats to push Sen. Bob Menendez to resign.

Playbook: “No relationship has pitted Booker’s loyalty against his politics like his friendship with Bob Menendez. Despite rising to prominence as an enemy of Jersey machine politics, Booker was the face of Team Menendez as soon as the latter was indicted on corruption charges in 2015. When Menendez’s trial ended in a hung jury in 2017, it seemed to vindicate the decision to stick by him.”

“The largest swarms of reporters today will be buzzing around Booker for a good reason. Menendez might stick around no matter what Booker says, but if Booker calls for Menenedez’s resignation it will make it safer and easier for every other Democrat who has remained mum to do the same. On the other hand, a supportive statement from Booker will be worth its weight in gold.”

Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) called on indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign his seat.  Welch said the allegations against Menendez “have wholly compromised his capacity” to be effective.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who faces a tough re-election race next year, has become the second Democratic senator to call on indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became fourth Democratic senator to call on indicted Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to resign, Politico reports.

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) should resign, adding the weight of one of Washington’s most prominent Democrats to the lengthening list of party members urging the embattled New Jersey senator to leave office, Politico reports.

“John Fetterman, the first senator to call on Bob Menendez to resign, plans to give back the $5,000 that the embattled New Jersey Democratic senator gave the Pennsylvania Democrat’s Senate campaign in 2022,” The Messenger reports.

“And Fetterman wants to do it in envelopes full of hundred-dollar bills.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) “defiantly pushed back against federal corruption charges and the erosion of Democratic support in his home state Monday, saying cash authorities found in his home was from his savings account and on hand for emergencies,” the AP reports.

Said Menendez: “Now, this may seem old-fashioned, but these were moneys drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years.”

Jonathan Last: “Last week we talked about how the two political parties (currently) differ in their institutional responses to corruption. Republican institutions tend to rally around their bad actors. Democratic institutions tend toward trying to police their bad actors. Not always and not perfectly. There are exceptions to both. But as a general matter, this is just objectively true in 2023 America.”

“In the course of that piece, I linked to the breaking story about New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez as evidence that corruption itself is present in both parties. The next day we got news that Menendez had been indicted.”

“The Democratic reaction to Menendez’s indictment is yet more evidence in support of my thesis: Right now, the Democratic party is a much healthier institution than the Republican party.”

Politico: “The senator’s refusal to step down despite a scathing federal corruption indictment — which could land him in prison for decades — is making New Jersey Democrats up for reelection next month jittery.”

“If Menendez runs again in 2024 and survives the Democratic primary, Republicans would have their best shot in 52 years at winning a Senate seat in the blue state, forcing his party to invest millions into defending what should be a safe seat.”

“And as Democrats try to exploit former President Donald Trump’s own legal troubles, including three separate indictments, the case against Menendez risks muddying their messaging — and could drag down the electoral prospects of other Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden.”

 “Hunter Biden on Tuesday sued former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his companies, and another attorney over alleged violations of computer fraud and data access related to a laptop computer Biden is said to have left at a Delaware repair shop,” CNBC reports.

“The identities of jurors for the Georgia election interference trial of former President Donald Trump will be kept secret until the end of the trial,” CNBC reports.

“Parties in the case are barred from disclosing the names, addresses, telephone numbers or identifying employment information of the jury or any prospective jurors.”

Donald Trump is on video saying he wants to purchase a Glock pistol in South Carolina.  However, if he actually went through with the purchase it would be a crime because he’s under felony indictment. 

Brian Klaas notes Donald Trump’s call to execute Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley “barely made the news.”

“Most Americans who don’t follow Trump on social media probably don’t even know it happened.”

“Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous, not just because it is the exact sort that incites violence against public officials but also because it shows just how numb the country has grown toward threats more typical of broken, authoritarian regimes. The United States is not just careening toward a significant risk of political violence around the 2024 presidential election. It’s also mostly oblivious to where it’s headed.”

Max Boot: “I fear for America’s future and hence the world’s — more so now than ever. I had relaxed a bit after the last two national elections, which had seemed to signal a return to normalcy. Donald Trump was decisively defeated in 2020 and, in 2022, most of his fellow election deniers also lost in their bids to take over the election machinery of swing states.”

“But now we’re back in Crazytown. Trump is the almost certain Republican nominee in 2024. And, if current polls are to be believed, he has an excellent chance of winning the presidency again — despite his two impeachments, his incitement of an insurrection, and the 91 felony counts he currently faces in four criminal cases.”

USA Today: “Fix the Court, a watchdog group that advocates for greater transparency in the judiciary, estimates that only about 17% of the court system’s disclosures for 2022 have been posted online, even though most of those reports were due months ago.”

“About 21 of 155 active appeals court judges who were on the bench last year had their 2022 annual financial reports posted to the judiciary’s online database as of Saturday.”

New York Times: “After four years of investigating and litigating, Letitia James was finally due for her day in court against Donald Trump.”

“But with that day fast approaching — a trial in her civil fraud lawsuit against him is scheduled to start on Oct. 2 — the former president’s lawyers threw a legal Hail Mary that could delay the case and seeks to gut it altogether.”

“Donald Trump’s lawyers said Monday that a gag order proposed by prosecutors would unconstitutionally silence him during key months of the 2024 presidential campaign, urging a federal judge in Washington, D.C. to reject the proposed limits,” Politico reports.

“In a 25-page filing that mirrored some of Trump’s own heated political rhetoric, Trump’s attorneys said the former president’s attacks on potential witnesses, special counsel Jack Smith and even U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan herself are protected by the First Amendment and were not actual threats or incitement of attacks.”

“President Biden and his campaign are working on a critical project for his re-election bid: Make sure he doesn’t trip,” Axios reports.

“As voters express deep concerns about the 80-year-old president’s age and fitness for office, Biden’s team is taking extra steps to prevent him from stumbling in public — as he did in June, when he tripped over a sandbag at the Air Force Academy.”

“With a physical therapist, Biden has been doing exercises to improve his balance as far back as November 2021. Since his stumble in June, he has been wearing tennis shoes more often to avoid slipping — and using the short stairs on Air Force One, entering the plane on a lower deck than before.”

“The Biden administration is in talks with Vietnam over an agreement for the largest arms transfer in history between the ex-Cold War adversaries, according to two people familiar with a deal that could irk China and sideline Russia,” Reuters reports.

“A package, which could come together within the next year, could consummate the newly upgraded partnership between Washington and Hanoi with the sale of a fleet of American F-16 fighter jets as the Southeast Asian nation faces tensions with Beijing in the disputed South China Sea.”

Bloomberg: “With the main opposition Labour Party needing an historic vote swing to oust Rishi Sunak from Downing Street at the general election expected next year, the centrist Lib Dems see a window of opportunity akin to 2010 when their support was needed to form a stable government with the Tories.”

“Whether a formal coalition or an informal pact, it’s a scenario where they could demand concessions — such as ministerial positions or specific policies — in exchange for their support.”

Washington Post: “The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.”

“Academics and government scientists say the campaign also is successfully throttling the years-long effort to study online falsehoods, which grew after Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election caught both social media sites and politicians unawares.”

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

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