Cup of Joe – October 4, 2023

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) became the first speaker in U.S. history ousted from his position by a motion to vacate, 216 to 210. Eight Republicans voted against McCarthy: Reps. Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Eli Crane, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good, Nancy Mace and Matt Rosendale. All Democrats voted to oust McCarthy. Four Democrats were absent for the vote.

Republican Representative Patrick McHenry was appointed Acting Speaker Pro Tem until a new speaker is elected.

What happens now?

The House Republican conference will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET to discuss next steps on choosing a speaker.

Washington Post: “A majority of Republicans have vowed to renominate McCarthy to the position and not allow the House to adjourn until he retakes the speakership.”

“Many point out that there is a united front within the GOP conference to prevent anyone else from winning the speakership but McCarthy, though they realize that if anti-McCarthy Republicans never flip, they will have to rely on Democrats to determine the speaker.”

Behind closed doors, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) emphasized the need for Democrats to stick together on any votes on Kevin McCarthy’s speakership, ABC News reports. Jeffries “definitively” called for a vote against any procedural motion to delay the motion to vacate, Punchbowl News reports.

He also instructed Democrats to vote to oust Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“This is their civil war. They can’t govern. They have no coalition… We just talked about our unity and unity has always been our power and that’s not going to change. We’re united in what our purpose is, and we’re not going to bail anybody out.” — Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), talking to reporters as he left a Democratic caucus meeting on Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) fate.

“Not my monkey; not my circus. I’m a hard no.”— Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), quoted by NBC News, on whether he would vote to save Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) told colleagues he received a call from former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) urging him to “get rid of” Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), ABC News reports.

“I am not a cheap date.”— Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), quoted by the New York Times, on what it would take to get him to vote to rescue Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy from an expected motion to vacate.

As one Democrat told the Washington Post: “Before we save his ass, what do we get? We’re not going to provide the votes just because we’re just nice guys.”

As another told CNN: “If somehow Democrats are asked to be helpful, it’s not just going to have to be out of the kindness of our hearts.”

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy told CNBC that he won’t give Democrats anything to buy their votes today on motion to vacate. Said McCarthy: “They will decide whatever they’re going to do. And we will live with whatever happens.” If you offer us nothing, we give you nothing.

Playbook: “We’re told that a group of New York Republicans close with McCarthy has privately discussed pursuing a possible power-sharing agreement with Democrats should the House move to elect a new speaker.”

When asked if he would pursue a power sharing agreement with Democrats to save his job, Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said: “That doesn’t work, we’re in the majority. You don’t surrender.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said on the House floor that Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a “secret deal” with Democrats on funding for Ukraine.  Said Gaetz: “It is becoming increasingly clear who the Speaker of the House already works for and it’s not the Republican Conference.”  He did not offer his motion to vacate the chair to try to oust McCarthy, but ended his remarks saying, “stay tuned.”

After Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed his motion to vacate and left the House floor yesterday, “the Democratic side of the House erupted in laughter,” Punchbowl News reports.

Josh Marshall: “First: Let’s not forget how we got here. McCarthy made a deal with Biden back in May to pass appropriations bills under a series of agreed spending limits. If Congress couldn’t finish all the bills by the end of September a continuing resolution would add more time. McCarthy then broke the agreement by giving the Freedom Caucus ultras the go-ahead to pass appropriations bills at spending limits dramatically lower than the May agreement required. That would set up a shutdown fight. The GOP House would point to its stack of appropriations bills and tell the Senate and White House: agree to these or we shut down the government.

That was the plan. But the House couldn’t actually pass its bills. The process broke down in the House rather than in a confrontation with the White House and Senate. The real gripe against McCarthy is that he couldn’t compel the GOP conference to pass the Freedom Caucus wishlist and then shut the government down over it. It’s the same old story: the Speaker couldn’t deliver the Freedom Caucus its pet pony.

Is some other McCarthy clone going to be able to do that? Of course not. The central conceit of the House hardliners is that their views should hold sway over the whole government even though they only make up a small minority of a narrow majority of one House of Congress. What they can’t win with votes they propose to win with threats to damage the Republic. Same as it’s ever been with these guys.

Second: Why would Democrats bail out McCarthy? The best argument for doing so would be that he’s twice chosen deal-making to fulfill core governmental responsibilities over GOP nihilism. Once in May and again at the end of September. It’s highly questionable whether that’s enough. He’s enabled a thoroughly corrupt impeachment inquiry against President Biden. He’s created a path that leads almost inevitably to the President’s impeachment. He immediately broke the May deal thus setting up the latest crisis. He has enabled ex-President reign of lawlessness and chaos. He’s thoroughly abused his power as Speaker. The political calculus for the Democrats almost certainly dictates allowing the House Republican caucus to drown in its own chaos. He appears set on preventing a vote on Ukraine aid that the great majority of the House supports.

Why would Democrats further enable this? There’s just no rationale for doing so without specific and enforceable concessions. But any such agreement would make its Republican authors electoral dead men walking.”

Josh Marshall: “Without a new Speaker, the House freezes into a sequence of repeated votes like we saw back in January. The hardliners enjoy a very, very small hurdle to oust McCarthy. But to make it stick they must replace him. For that all the dynamics flip on their head. Now they need all but four members to unite around an alternative. That means getting the votes of scores of reps who are furious at Gaetz for forcing this latest crisis in the first place. It means convincing them all to hand him a historic victory.

This is possible with someone who is the functional equivalent of McCarthy, a nominally mainstream candidate. But that new Speaker is owned by Matt Gaetz. Everyone has to know that if Gaetz succeeds at this ouster his group’s power in the House rises dramatically. It’s this second hurdle that keeps me skeptical that this gambit succeeds.”

Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-CA) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate by Vice President Kamala Harris to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“Laphonza Butler was in Colorado for a work trip late Saturday when she spoke with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s team for the first time about filling the U.S. Senate vacancy left by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Butler: “I had not talked to anyone: Not the governor, not the governor’s team. I was unaware that my name was even seriously being considered. And it’s been a sort of whirlwind ever since.”

As for whether she will run for the seat next year: “I have no idea. I genuinely don’t know.”

Playbook: “Butler officially has two months to make up her mind: California’s filing deadline is Dec. 8, but even that is a stretch: If she runs, she might have the advantage of incumbency, but she’d be playing catch-up in just about every other way imaginable — particularly money.”

“The New York judge presiding over Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial on Tuesday issued a gag order after the former president attacked his clerk by name and shared her image on social media,” The Messenger reports.

Said Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron: “Personal attacks on members on my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate, and I won’t tolerate it.”

New York Times: “Mr. Trump attacked the clerk, Allison Greenfield, shortly before noon on his Truth Social site. His post was a picture of Ms. Greenfield with Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader. Mr. Trump mocked Ms. Greenfield as ‘Schumer’s girlfriend’ and said that the case against him should be dismissed.”

New York prosecutors said that Donald Trump “wanted to get higher on the Forbes billionaires list and save a fortune on loan terms by overvaluing his properties,” Bloomberg reports. “Clips of sworn testimony by Trump Organization officials and emails with the Trump family’s bankers were featured in the state’s opening statement Monday as New York argued that the company falsified asset values to get better terms from Deutsche Bank AG and others.”

“Donald Trump returned to a New York court Tuesday after a fiery start to his business fraud lawsuit trial,” the AP reports. “After Monday’s opening statements, Tuesday’s court action is expected to center on the more plodding task of going through years of his financial documents. An accountant who prepared Trump’s financial statements for years is expected to be back on the witness stand for a second day.”

New York Times: “The decision to show up voluntarily in court by Mr. Trump, who has already been compelled to courthouses in four different criminal arraignments this year, underscores how personally aggrieved Mr. Trump feels by the accusations of fraud, as well as his own self-confidence that showing up will help his legal cause.”

“The move also reveals how inverted the norms of politics have become in the Trump-era Republican Party: Being accused of wrongdoing could be politically beneficial despite the very real legal jeopardy.”

“In a political age in which candidates are defined as much by their critics and opponents as by their stances, some of Mr. Trump’s advisers see an opportunity in a case first brought by a Democratic New York attorney general, Letitia James, even if the accusations cut to the heart of his identity.”

“For former President Donald Trump, showing up in New York for the start of his civil trial Monday was more than a political stop to boost his 2024 campaign. It was also deeply personal,” CNN reports. “Several sources who spoke with CNN said Trump’s decision to attend the hearing after the judge found Trump had committed fraud by inflating his riches was largely driven by how the accusations strike at what Trump values the most: his business and his brand.”

Said one source: “They’re hitting him where it hurts.”

Donald Trump called in a massive McDonalds order to court on Monday, with TMZ capturing staffers in dark suits carrying six large brown bags from the fast food chain into the New York courthouse where Trump is on trial, the Daily Beast reports.

Donald Trump marked the first day of his New York fraud trial by sharing a courtroom sketch depicting Jesus sitting next to him.

Donald Trump isn’t getting a jury trial in his $250 million civil fraud suit brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James because his legal team didn’t request one, The Guardian reports.

Harry Litman: “I had heard this rumor, and now the judge just confirmed it. It is mind-blowing. For Trump to have his fate in the hands of this judge, whom he has vilified, is malpractice by his lawyers and very ominous for him.”

Donald Trump family attorney, Clifford Robert, told the judge that the former president will testify in his defense during his civil fraud trial which started today, MSNBC reports.  Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are also expected to testify.

“This is a judge that should be disbarred. This is a judge that should be out of office. This is a judge that some people say could be charged criminally for what he’s doing. He’s interfering with an election and it’s a disgrace.” — Donald Trump, upon leaving his civil fraud trial in New York City.  He’s also the judge who will be deciding Trump’s fate.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) “is circulating a list of talking points to fellow Democrats in a bid to stop the burgeoning GOP push to punish him after he set off a House fire alarm during Saturday’s chaotic spending votes,” Politico reports.

One suggested response: “I believe Congressman Bowman when he says this was an accident. Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else.”

Bowman is going about this all the wrong way, and Democrats should not support him. Dude, you’re on camera pulling the fire alarm. No one above the age of 5 thinks pulling a fire alarm opens a door or does anything else other than activate the fire alarm. You did a stupid thing and got caught. Own the fuck up to it. Jesus. Apologize and accept a censure.

By going this route of lying about what he did, he should be opposed by all Democrats in the next primary election.

“Hunter Biden’s hopeful arrival at the federal courthouse in Wilmington, Del., in July ended in chaos and uncertainty after the judge in his case dismantled an agreement that would have given him broad immunity from future gun and tax charges,” the New York Times reports. “Mr. Biden’s expectations are much lower this time. He is set to be arraigned in court on Tuesday on three counts related to lying about his drug use when he bought a handgun in 2018, a routine legal proceeding with outsize political implications.”

He pled not guilty yesterday.

“Donald Trump is lashing out at political and legal foes in increasingly violent terms as his campaign to return to office accelerates,” NBC News reports. “The past week has been the busiest yet on Trump’s 2024 campaign schedule, which has hit both coasts, as well as first-in-the-nation Iowa and battleground Michigan. But the stepped-up campaign was marked more by the unruly and aggressive insults he hurled in campaign speeches and posts on social media with the first of many trials in the next year approaching.”

Philip Bump: “Given all of this, it’s probably not a surprise that half of Americans have no confidence in the House’s ability to conduct a fair investigation into Biden. That’s according to new polling conducted by Monmouth University — polling that was in the field before the first hearing took place.”

“What’s fascinating about the results of the poll is that even Republicans seem skeptical that the House will be fair in its probe. As many Republicans told Monmouth that they had ‘a lot of confidence’ in the House to conduct the investigation (29 percent) as said they had ‘no confidence’ at all. Among independents, a plurality indicated that they had no confidence in a fair probe.”

“John Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, offered his harshest criticism yet of the former president, CNN reports.

Said Kelly: “What can I add that has not already been said? A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.”

He added: “A person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women. A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”

He concluded: “There is nothing more that can be said. God help us.”

President Biden is planning to call allies to reassure them that US support for Ukraine will continue, Bloomberg reports.

New York Times: “American officials said they are convinced that Mr. Putin intends to try to end U.S. and European support for Ukraine by using his spy agencies to push propaganda supporting pro-Russian political parties and by stoking conspiracy theories with new technologies.”

“The Russia disinformation aims to increase support for candidates opposing Ukraine aid with the ultimate goal of stopping international military assistance to Kyiv…”

“Mr. Putin, the officials said, appears to be closely watching U.S. political debates over Ukraine assistance. Republican opposition to sending more money to Kyiv forced congressional leaders to pass a stopgap spending bill on Saturday that did not include additional aid for the country.”

In an excerpt from his new book on Sam Bankman Fried, Michael Lewis has an anecdote about the crypto billionaire’s political maneuverings in summer 2022:

“As the plane descended into Washington, he was exploring the legality of paying Donald Trump himself not to run for president. His team had somehow created a back channel into the Trump operation and returned with the not terribly Earth-shattering news that Donald Trump might indeed have his price: $5 billion. Or so Sam was told by his team.”

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) is stepping down from his role in House Democratic leadership after floating a primary challenge to President Biden, Axios reports. Said Phillips: “My convictions relative to the 2024 presidential race are incongruent with the majority of my caucus, and I felt it appropriate to step aside from elected leadership.”

He added: “I celebrate Leader Jeffries for his remarkable and principled leadership, and extend gratitude to my outstanding friends and colleagues for having created space and place for my perspectives.”

“An anonymous former state employee came forward Friday claiming to have evidence that the Arkansas governor’s office doctored documents and unlawfully withheld financial records that should have been made public under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA,” the Arkansas Times reports.

“The controversy concerns the $19,000 purchase of a lectern (or podium) by the governor’s office from an out-of-state events company earlier this year, as well as Gov. Sarah Sanders’ successful efforts to newly block access to certain governmental records.”

“The first time Donald Trump talked privately about shooting missiles into Mexico to take out drug labs, as far as his former aides can recall, was in early 2020,” the New York Times reports.

“And the first time those comments became public was when his second defense secretary, Mark Esper, wrote in his memoir that Mr. Trump had raised it with him and asked if the United States could make it look as if some other country was responsible. Mr. Esper portrayed the idea as ludicrous.”

“Yet instead of condemning the idea, some Republicans publicly welcomed word that Mr. Trump had wanted to use military force against the drug cartels on Mexican soil — and without the consent of Mexico’s government. Mr. Trump’s notion of a military intervention south of the border has swiftly evolved from an Oval Office fantasy to something approaching Republican Party doctrine.”

A federal judge on Monday scheduled the trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife Nadine on bribery and corruption charges to begin May 6, 2024, CNBC reports. The Democratic primary is less than a month later on June 4.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) “was carjacked at gunpoint Monday night near his residence in the Navy Yard area of Washington, D.C. just blocks from the Capitol,” ABC News reports.

“Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson confronted top White House officials late Sunday, demanding they take fast and concrete steps to address a migrant crisis they believe is about to reach a breaking point in the Windy City,” CNN reports.

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) told top conservative donors last week that he was rooting against Republicans winning as many House seats as possible during the 2022 midterms, The Messenger reports. Said Rosendale: “Look, we have shown, OK, with a very small handful of people, six at times, five at times, that we can have tremendous impact in that body and when a lot of people, unfortunately, were voting to have a 270, 280 Republican House, I was praying each evening for a small majority.”

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

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