Cup of Joe – October 7, 2023

Donald Trump filed a motion to dismiss Special Counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election subversion case, arguing that he has has absolute immunity for actions performed within “outer perimeter” of his official duties. He added that that because the Senate acquitted him in his impeachment trial, he can’t be criminally charged for similar conduct.

“Months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump allegedly discussed potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club — an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists,” ABC News reports. “The potential disclosure was reported to special counsel Jack Smith’s team as they investigated Trump’s alleged hoarding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.”

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) said he spoke to Donald Trump who indicated he was endorsing Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to be the next Speaker of the House.  Said Nehls to CNN: “He decided to show his support for Jim Jordan. He thinks that Jim Jordan has the best chance at uniting our party and becoming the speaker.”

“House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers, a close ally of Kevin McCarthy, is not only publicly backing Steve Scalise for speaker, but also pushing more than 80 southern state members to support the majority leader’s bid,” Politico reports.

“Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), the chair of the Republican Study Committee, is calling every single House Republican before he makes a decision about whether to run for speaker,” Punchbowl News reports. “As of now, Hern has called 130 House Republicans and has reached 90 lawmakers… Each call lasts about 15 or 20 minutes.”

Punchbowl News: “Neither current candidate to succeed McCarthy — Jordan or Scalise — has a clear lead in endorsements. Neither has shown a ton of momentum up to this point. While unquestionably liked and respected by their Republican colleagues — even admired — there are lots of questions lingering about both men. These range from their ability to raise the big sums needed in modern-day House politics to the likelihood that either can unify the Republican Conference’s bitterly warring factions.”

“Jordan got what could prove to be a major boost on Thursday night when former President Donald Trump endorsed him. Yet even a Trump endorsement — with all that it carries — may not get Jordan to 218.”

“Based on our conversations with lawmakers, aides, backers of Scalise and Jordan and uncommitted House Republicans, it seems highly unlikely that a speaker will be chosen and approved on the House floor by next week.”

Playbook: “Most of the late-night discussions we had across the GOP conference were about whether the Trump endorsement — and Jordan’s larger outside strategy — helps, has no effect, or actually hurts him.”

“Kevin McCarthy had just been ousted as speaker of the House. Republicans — and the entire Congress — were stunned. Yet McCarthy’s deputy, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) wasted no time, as he quietly launched a bid to become the next speaker,” The Messenger reports. “Four Republican sources say Scalise started his campaign for speaker on Tuesday evening, moments after the House approved a far-right motion to vacate McCarthy from the speakership, before any other member had formally declared a candidacy.”

“Just moments after the stunning ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker, a clerk revealed the name of the new, temporary leader: Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. He now faces the hardest job on Capitol Hill,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “The bow-tied House Republican veteran, the top entry on a secret list prepared by McCarthy as part of post-9/11 protocols, is charged with running the chamber until a new leader is elected. That contest could be resolved next week but could also stretch longer, given the deep fractures within his party. Both of the candidates so far—House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R., La.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R., Ohio)— have broad bases of support, and neither had a clear lead as of Thursday.”

“Forty-five allies of former U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are calling on their Republican colleagues for ‘fundamental changes’ that would make it more difficult for a small faction to oust whoever may take his place,” Reuters reports.

The House speaker debate next week will be televised, Punchbowl News reports.

But reporters will not be allowed in the room. They are working out whether this will be pre-taped or live.

Multiple House Republicans tell CNN they’re infuriated by the decision for speaker candidates to participate in a televised debate with Fox News host Bret Baier from the Capitol on Monday.

One lawmaker called it “insanity” and said “people are pissed.” Another Republican complained that this will turn their speaker’s race into a “circus.”

A third predicted event won’t go on as planned because of the push back it’s already getting.

“The Biden administration in a major policy pivot waived more than two dozen federal laws to allow quick construction of about 20 extra miles to the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas,” CNBC reports. “During his 2020 Democratic campaign, President Joe Biden had promised that not ‘another foot of wall’ would be built during his administration.”

Reuters: “The administration said Thursday’s action did not deviate from Biden’s proclamation because money that was allocated during Trump’s term in 2019 had to be spent now.”

Nancy Pelosi was the greatest House Speaker in our lifetimes. That’s because she was able to pass consequential legislation to advance the agendas of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  But she also knew that to keep power she had to protect the moderates in her party or the members most likely to face tough elections.  She let moderates vote against her when necessary and she rarely made them vote on legislation that threatened their re-election prospects. She needed them and didn’t care if they got elected by attacking her.

“Just win, baby,” she famously said.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), who served as top House GOP campaign strategist in the 2000 and 2002 cycles had a similar approach. He told the Washington Post: “We ran our caucus to basically support members in swing districts. That’s how we got power.”  This is in contrast to current House Republicans, led until this week by Kevin McCarthy: “Today, they run the caucus now to protect members from R+30 districts to protect them in primaries.”

Successful House leaders devote their time toward bills that would boost their members in tough districts. They don’t cater to those from safe districts. That’s because majorities are always won by a party’s ability to manage and protect its moderates.

“Donald Trump is discussing whether to head to Capitol Hill and speak to the fractious House GOP caucus in the coming days as Republicans consider a new speaker,” The Messenger reports.

Donald Trump has suggested that he would be available to serve as House Speaker for a short term basis if that helps Republicans.

He’s even scheduled a visit to Capitol Hill next week to speak to the House GOP caucus.

It’s fun for political junkies to speculate about — kind of like brokered conventions — but it will never happen.

First, Republicans would have to change conference rules which say that no member of the leadership can be under felony indictment. Trump has 91 of them — so far.

Second, Republican moderates would have to publicly vote for Trump on the House floor. If they didn’t because they feared the political repercussions back home, Trump would likely back a primary challenge against them.
Third, House Republicans don’t need a temporary fix to their leadership vacuum, they need someone who can lead them into the next elections.

Finally, the idea would benefit no one but Trump.

But, of course, that’s why he floated the idea in the first place.

“Seven of the eight Republicans who voted to sink Kevin McCarthy’s speakership were longtime conservative critics. There was one unexpected rebel who McCarthy’s allies say committed the worst betrayal of all,” Politico reports. “Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) triggered audible gasps on the House floor when she joined seven hardliners in torpedoing McCarthy during Tuesday’s historic ouster vote. That decision is now clouding her future in the GOP, not to mention imperiling the status of her relatively competitive seat next year, as scores of angry Republicans mull possible retribution.”

Mace explained her vote to reporters: “Promises that I was made were not kept… When you shake a hand and make a promise, you ought to keep it.”

“Kevin McCarthy’s ouster from the House speakership Tuesday appears to have increased the risk that the U.S. government will shut down next month, as the far-right lawmakers who toppled him demand that the GOP extract impossibly large concessions from the White House and Democratic-controlled Senate,” the Washington Post reports.

Politico: “McCarthy’s sudden exit at the hands of a small group of Republicans is shaking the financial sector’s faith in lawmakers’ ability to manage their fiscal obligations.”

“Job growth was stronger than expected in September, a sign that the U.S. economy is hanging tough despite higher interest rates, labor strife and dysfunction in Washington,” CNBC reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Friday’s jobs report showed that hiring accelerated sharply in September, as employers added 336,000 jobs… The unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%.”

“For all his flaws, Kevin McCarthy fully earned his reputation for being, as one GOP operative put it, ‘a money fucking factory for Republicans.’” the Daily Beast reports.

“In the 2022 cycle alone, McCarthy raised over $27 million for his Majority Committee PAC, spending almost all of it on his colleagues—even 14 of the 20 GOP members who fought for days in January to block him from winning the speaker’s gavel.”

“With McCarthy now relegated to the House Republican rank and file after his historic ouster from the speakership this week, the campaign cash void he leaves behind might be as concerning to Republicans as the literal power vacuum in the House.”

“Lawyers for Donald Trump may ask a New York appeals court to pause his ongoing $250 million business fraud trial and stay a judge’s order that could gut the former president’s company,” CNBC reports.

“When the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s bank fraud trial reminded him this week that he alone would decide his fate, the incensed former president leaned over to the lawyer on his left and grumbled, ‘I wish I’d had a jury trial,’” the Daily Beast reports.

“But there’s a reason Trump isn’t getting a jury trial: His own attorneys didn’t ask for one. At least, they didn’t ask for one using the proper legal channel and on the correct legal timeline, according to court records and the lawyers themselves.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) is asking Palm Beach County to tax Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property at the rate the former president claims it is worth amid his ongoing civil fraud trial in New York, NBC News reports.  Wrote Moskowitz: “Between 2011 and 2021, you value the Mar-a-Lago property between $18 million and $28 million. Mar-a-Lago was listed as worth $490 million in financial documents given to banks. If the property value of Mar-a-Lago is so much higher than it was appraised, will you be amending the property value in line with the Trump family’s belief that the property is worth well over a billion dollars?”

“Georgia prosecutors intend to call Boris Epshteyn, a top lawyer and adviser to former President Donald Trump, as a witness in the upcoming trial of Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two of Trump’s co-defendants in a sprawling racketeering case related to Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election,” Politico reports. “Epshteyn is one of six witnesses who reside outside of Georgia that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is attempting to summon to the state for the Oct. 23 trial, the first for any of the 19 co-defendants charged in the alleged conspiracy. Compelling his testimony may be a challenge in such a short timeframe, particularly given his attorney-client relationship with Trump.”

Gen. Mark Milley on 60 Minutes: “I engage with him frequently and he is alert, sound, does his homework, reads the papers, reads all the read-ahead material, and is very, very engaging in issues of very serious matters of war and peace and life and death.”

“So if the American people are worried about an individual, who is someone who’s making decisions of war and peace and makes the decisions of nuclear weapons and that sort of thing, I think they can rest easy.”

“White House officials are urgently strategizing on the best way to salvage U.S. aid to Ukraine, debating whether to push for a larger funding package or seek a smaller one that may have a better chance of passing now that support for Kyiv in Congress has been thrown into doubt by House Republicans’ ouster of their leader this week,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Vladimir Putin of Russia claimed on Thursday that the warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin and his associates may have brought down their private jet with hand grenades while possibly under the influence of cocaine — a new narrative from the Kremlin about the August plane crash widely seen as an assassination carried out by the Russian government,” the New York Times reports.  Uh huh, because that is what one does while flying: snoring lines while juggling grenades. 

“The Republican meltdown on Capitol Hill that toppled the speaker this week and left the House in chaos has also highlighted a sharp decline in G.O.P. support for continuing to send aid to Ukraine, and how opposition to helping Kyiv has become a litmus test for the right,” the New York Times reports.  “The intensifying shift is striking for a party that has long defined itself by its belief in a muscular American military defending democracy around the world. And it could make it far more difficult for the Biden administration to fulfill its promise to support Ukrainian fighters for the long haul.”

“I don’t believe that we are endeavoring upon a legitimate impeachment of Joe Biden. They’re trying to engage in a, like, ‘forever war’ of impeachment. And like many of our forever wars, it will drag on forever and end in a bloody draw.”— Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), quoted by NBC News, talking about House Republicans at an online fundraiser.

“The ex-campaign treasurer for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) will plead guilty on Thursday to an unspecified felony in connection with the sprawling federal investigation of financial irregularities surrounding the indicted New York Republican,” the AP reports.

Time: “Earlier this year, Biden signaled the possibility of getting more done with Congress. In his State of the Union address in February, he laid out a list of policy areas where he hoped he could continue to work with Republicans… Those aspects of Biden’s agenda are now largely dead in the water.”

“As the chaos within the House Republican caucus devolves into a full-blown leadership fight, the White House finds its legislative agenda for the remainder of President Biden’s term narrowing to a barebones to-do list… That list has just two items on it: keep the government funded and continue military assistance to Ukraine.” 

Washington Post: “Trump’s advocacy of extrajudicial killings was widely covered by newspapers and TV stations in California but generally ignored by the national press. No mainstream TV network carried his speech live or excerpted it later that night. CNN and MSNBC mentioned it during panel discussions over the next few days. The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and PBS didn’t report it at all. The New York Times wrote about it four days later, playing the story on Page 14 of its print edition.”

“The Anaheim speech was part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive rhetoric by Trump — and a somewhat muted response by the news media to his repeated exhortations to violence.”

Dan Froomkin: To amplify Trump? Or not to amplify? There’s actually a good answer.

The IRS has placed a lien on Rudy Giuliani’s $4.5 million penthouse after accusing the fallen attorney of owing more than half a million dollars in unpaid taxes, the Daily Mail reports.

“U.S. marshals are being instructed to seize a 2009 Bell helicopter belonging to a company owned by Gov. Jim Justice (R) and his family because of unpaid debt,” the West Virginia Metro News reports.

The lawyers representing Mike Lindell in the Dominion voting machine defamation case have moved to withdraw saying Lindell is “in arrears by millions of dollars” on the legal fees he owes them.

A man with a handgun demanded to see Gov. Tony Evers (D) at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon and returned later with an assault rifle after posting bail, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“I can only speak for myself. If I had been a House member, I’d have been voting for Kevin McCarthy.”— Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), on MSNBC.

“President Biden’s 2-year-old dog, Commander, has been removed from the White House after the German shepherd bit staffers and Secret Service officers,” the Washington Post reports.

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

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