Cup of Joe – October 12, 2023

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise won the House Republican nomination to be the next speaker over Rep. Jim Jordan, 113 to 99, the New York Times reports.

“His candidacy will now go to the House floor, where chaos reigned the last time Republicans tried to elect a speaker and the divisions in the party could make for another raucous election.”

Just minutes after the vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told reporters: “I’m excited for him. I can’t wait to go vote for Steve Scalise. Long live Speaker Scalise.”

No one is more responsible for Kevin McCarthy’s ouster than Gaetz, but it’s unclear how Scalise would be substantively different. Like McCarthy, Scalise supported the bipartisan debt ceiling deal, additional Ukraine aid and a clean continuing resolution to keep the government funded — all which Gaetz says he opposes. That pretty much confirms what we long suspected: Gaetz threw the House of Representatives into chaos over a personal vendetta he had against McCarthy.

The House will not vote on electing a speaker today, CNN reports.

NBC News reports Rep. Jim Jordan just met with Rep. Steve Scalise and said he wants to “unify the conference” and confirms he is no longer in the running for Speaker.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy earlier told House Republican lawmakers not to nominate him for speaker during a closed GOP meeting set for Wednesday, Punchbowl News reports. A group of moderate Republicans wanted to stick with McCarthy instead of voting for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise or Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was introduced as “Speaker Emeritus” at the closed House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday, Punchbowl News reports. It’s meant to refer to someone who has left the position but continues to serve in the House as a backbencher.

It should be noted that Donald Trump endorsed Jim Jordan and he lost.

Politico: “One idea circulating among senior Republicans is empowering the acting speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), to proceed with finishing the annual spending debate. That includes possibly negotiating a spending deal with Democrats ahead of the Nov. 17 shutdown deadline.”

Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said the U.S. will act to support the government of Israel in whatever way it needs in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the country: “If we need to act as a government, we will,” Politico reports.

Politico reported that “Jordan’s backers have some new data that may give them something to brag about: signs that swing-district voters aren’t significantly alienated by the Ohioan’s conservative record.”

“A new poll from National Public Affairs, showed that for likely voters in 11 key swing districts, 47% would be more likely to back their current GOP representative in 2024 if they picked Jordan for speaker. Among Independents that number is 22%.”

It didn’t sway the GOP House caucus.

In a meeting of House Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) would not commit to backing Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) for speaker, while Scalise said he would vote for Jordan, Punchbowl News reports.

Meanwhile, Axios reports Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has been remominated for speaker by acclamation by the Democratic caucus.

“Israeli troops are massing for what’s widely seen as all but inevitable: a ground invasion of Gaza,” Bloomberg reports.

“The public and the national security establishment in Israel are demanding retribution for the attacks by Hamas militants that claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives over the weekend. But a ground invasion would be complicated by Gaza’s dense population, its complex underground network of tunnels and the danger it would pose to Israelis, Americans and others being held hostage.”

Daniel Drezner: The trouble with a Gaza siege.

“Israelis throughout the country were ordered to shelter in place amid a large-scale attack involving drones coming from the direction of the northern border on Wednesday evening,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“Shortly after the attack began, reports were received of terrorists on paragliders landing in northern Israel. Rocket alerts were issued throughout northern Israel as well.”

Haaretz: Alarms sound in Northern Israel for fear of infiltration.

Washington Post: “Israel has pounded Gaza with airstrikes for four days, killing more than 900 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Residents bracing for a ground assault say they have nowhere to go.”

“The U.S. could soon have two aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean, a move that would mark a major escalation in U.S. military power in the region as fighting intensifies between Israeli forces and Hamas militants,” Politico reports.

Israel bombed the house of the father of Mohammed Deif, who is the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Jerusalem Post reports. Several of Deif’s family members were killed, including his brother.

Politico: “Israel is now in its fourth day of carrying out sweeping airstrikes in Gaza, in retaliation for a massive surprise attack Saturday by Palestinian militants. As the government considers the scale and scope of its next response, Israel confronts an agonizing dilemma: how to deal with a hostage crisis that is inextricably linked to any prospect of a ground invasion.”

“Over 150 Israelis — according to initial assessments from a senior Israeli military official — have been taken captive by Hamas. And while right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to reduce parts of Gaza ‘into rubble’ on Sunday, urging those living there to leave, any wide scale military operation could put those hostages at risk. Hamas has already promised to kill an Israeli hostage every time Israel bombs a Palestinian home without warning.”

The Economist: After its brutal attack, Hamas is calculating its next move.

New York Times: “As Israeli soldiers regain control of areas near Gaza that came under attack, they are finding evidence seen in videos and photos and confirmed by witness accounts of the massacre of civilians by Hamas gunmen.”

CNN: “Horrors of Hamas’ attack on border communities are emerging, with children found ‘butchered’ in a kibbutz, the Israeli military said, and at least 1,200 people were killed in Israel.”

Washington Post: Scenes from a massacre: Inside an Israeli town destroyed by Hamas.

“Hamas’s lightning strike on Israel last weekend has raised the question how the group financed the surprise operation. One answer: cryptocurrency,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“During the year leading up to the attacks, three militant groups—Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah—received large amounts of funds through crypto, according to a review of Israeli government seizure orders and blockchain analytics reports.”

“Digital-currency wallets that Israeli authorities linked to the PIJ received as much as $93 million in crypto between August 2021 and June this year… Wallets connected to Hamas received about $41 million over a similar time period.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former minister of defense Benny Gantz agreed to form an emergency unity government, Axios reports.

“More than a quarter-million Gazans fled their homes and some tried to escape the strip for Egypt as Israeli forces launched new rounds of airstrikes in the enclave and exchanged fire with militants in Lebanon,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The bombardments following Saturday’s devastating attack by Hamas—which killed more than 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians—raised concerns about an escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, while skirmishes along Israel’s northern border threaten a regional expansion of the conflict.”

“Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested on Tuesday that Iran was not behind the incursion in Israel, while praising what he called Israel’s ‘irreparable’ military and intelligence defeat,” the New York Times reports.

He added: “We kiss the foreheads and arms of the resourceful and intelligent designers of the attack.”

“President Biden left no room for ambiguity as he delivered one of the most forceful, emotional speeches of his presidency Tuesday afternoon: Hamas’ attack on Israel was ‘an act of sheer evil,’ he declared, equating it to the ‘worst rampages of ISIS,’” Axios reports.

“Biden’s address — carried live by all major news networks —was perhaps the most powerful statement of support for Israel by a sitting U.S. president since Harry Truman recognized the Jewish state in 1948.”

“This is an act of sheer evil.”— President Joe Biden, in an address from the White House on the Hamas attack on Israel.

President Biden confirmed that there are now 14 Americans confirmed among the dead in Israel after the attack by Hamas, CNN reports. He also said that there are Americans currently being held hostage in Gaza.

Said Biden: “In this moment, we must be crystal clear – we stand with Israel.”

He added: “Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond — indeed has a duty to respond — to these vicious attacks.”

Axios reports that 48% of Israeli households watched President Biden’s address yesterday on television. This doesn’t include streaming on the Internet or YouTube.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is cutting his Asia codel short due to the unfolding war in Israel and will be back in New York by Thursday night, Punchbowl News reports.

“Schumer, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in U.S. history, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week in Beijing and successfully pushed the country’s foreign ministry to issue a stronger statement condemning the violence in Israel.”

Politico: “Schumer has simultaneously been addressing Hamas’ attack on Israel while overseas, but will come back on Thursday to get classified briefings, go to Shabbat and spend time with family.”

“House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul told reporters both U.S. and Israeli intelligence operations failed to spot and warn ahead of the deadly terrorist attacks over the weekend,” Politico reports.

Said McCaul: “We’re not quite sure how we missed it. I’m not quite sure how Israel missed it. We know that it Egypt had warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen.”

House members were “clearly shaken” leaving a classified members-only briefing on Israel this morning, Punchbowl News reports.

Rep. Max Miller (R-OH) told reporters he “learned something very, very new within that room that has changed the scope and how I see this developing situation.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told Politico that the war in Israel should prompt a “pretty significant reform of the nominations process” with hundreds of military and diplomatic personnel languishing in the Senate.

“In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Israel, Senate Republicans are urging the White House to pull back recently unfrozen Iranian funds,” Politico reports.

“The Iranian oil funds were unfrozen as part of a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied they contributed in any way to the Hamas attack.”

Said Blinken: “Not a single dollar from that account has actually been spent to date. And in any event, it’s very carefully and closely regulated by the Treasury Department to make sure that it’s only used for food, for medicine, for medical equipment.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for $6 billion in Iran assets to be refrozen following the Hamas attack in Israel, joining Senate Republicans in the rallying cry against the Biden administration, Politico reports.

“Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, knows that he was involved in creating so-called statements of financial condition for former President Donald Trump for years,” CBS News reports.

“He doesn’t remember much else. Weisselberg replied with variations of ‘I don’t recall’ to dozens of questions in a New York courtroom on Tuesday.”

“As Donald Trump’s longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg helped spare the former president’s real estate empire from its last existential threat, staving off insolvency after casino bankruptcies and an airline failure in the 1990s,” the AP reports.

“Now, after a recent jail stint for tax fraud, Weisselberg is front and center again — set to testify Tuesday in the civil trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ fraud lawsuit against Trump and his company, the Trump Organization.”

23-count superseding indictment charges Rep. George Santos (R-NY) with stealing donor IDs and making unauthorized charges to their credit cards.

“On one occasion, Santos charged $12,000 to the Contributor’s credit card, ultimately transferring the vast majority of that money into his personal bank account.”

“I did not have access to my phone. I have no clue what you guys are talking about.” — Rep. George Santos (R-NY), when asked by CNN about the new criminal charges filed against him.

“New York House Republicans reiterated their calls for Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to resign following a revised federal criminal indictment on Tuesday evening that includes even more allegations against the freshman lawmaker. And some of Santos’ colleagues are also considering demanding the New York Republican be expelled from Congress,” Punchbowl News reports.

Said Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY): “He’s a terrible human being. He does not deserve to be in the House of Representatives. He deserves to be in a federal prison. And I think the issue of expulsion is going to be something that a lot of my colleagues are going to talk about.”

Steve Benen: New charges against George Santos add to House Republicans’ woes.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is maintaining his innocence after getting hit with a 23-count superseding federal indictment, vowing not to resign or pursue a plea bargain, Politico reports.

Said Santos: “The answer is no. I will not take a plea deal. I can prove my innocence.”

On efforts by some Republicans to expel him, he added: “They can try to expel me, but I pity the fools that go ahead and do that and think that that’s the smartest idea. They’re in tough elections next year, but they’re setting precedent for the future.”

“The richest Americans are emerging from the coronavirus pandemic with their share of wealth and income on the rise again despite some thought that the tight job market and hefty wage gains spawned by the crisis might narrow the gulf between rich and poor,” Reuters reports.

“Recent data from the Federal Reserve shows the top 1% of households by income held roughly 26.5% of household net worth at the end of June, up about 1.5 percentage points since 2019, the year before the pandemic bounced the economy between recession, massive government stimulus and high inflation.”

“Texas has bused more than 50,000 migrants from the border to major U.S. cities across the country — and the effort is ramping up,” Axios reports.

“The judge presiding over the Georgia election subversion case signed orders Tuesday to compel Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to testify at the first trial in the sprawling case,” CNN reports.

Aaron Blake: “While arguing against the motion by Trump’s lawyers to delay the May 20 trial, special counsel Jack Smith’s lawyers assured they’re ready to go and that such a delay isn’t necessary, unsurprisingly. But they also said they are ready to prove something significant that, to this point, has remained shrouded and the subject of much speculation: why Trump allegedly took and kept the documents.”

“The government apparently thinks it knows ‘what Trump intended’ with the documents. And it’s signaling that it plans to prove that intent.”

“Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Tuesday to force former President Donald Trump to tell them months before he goes to trial on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election whether he intends to defend himself by blaming the stable of lawyers around him around at the time for giving him poor legal advice,” the New York Times reports.

“In a motion filed to the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, the prosecutors sought an order that would compel Mr. Trump to tell them by Dec. 18 if he plans to pursue the blame-the-lawyers strategy — known as an advice of counsel defense — at his federal election interference trial, which is now set to begin in March in Federal District Court in Washington.”

Philip Elliott: “The House’s paralysis had been embarrassing for the party and the nation. But now it is on the verge of becoming something else entirely. The Republican Party faces a test of its soul on par with the one presented in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021…”

“Republicans now face a similar test, one where America’s reputation as an ally who could be trusted to deliver when it counts hangs in the balance. Everyone who has watched Congress closely over the years expects both chambers to agree on a supplemental tranche of cash for Israel without much debate. Yet, without a Speaker of the House in place, such a spending plan cannot come to the floor for a vote…”

“That leaves both Israel and Ukraine caught in the middle of the GOP’s identity crisis. Until Republicans realize their fate—and the legacy of the party and of the country’s long alliance with Israel—hangs on their infighting, there is little beyond Thoughts and Prayers that Americans can send to Israel to combat Hamas (or to Ukraine to shore up its fight against Putin). If Republicans, whose constituents are some of the most pro-Israel people in the country, cannot get their act together and organize a House org chart so they can help their favorite ally in one of the most urgent periods since its creation, there’s really no denying that the Trumpist-led GOP has drained the party of its global reach and prestige.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin finally made his first comments on the Hamas attack on Israel, saying it’s “a clear example of the failure of U.S. policy in the Middle East” for not “taking the core interests of the Palestinian people into account,” the Financial Times reports.

“Russia is set to benefit from the Israel-Hamas conflict, as Israel’s requests for US military aid risk diverting weapons and focus from Ukraine while the rising price of oil bolsters Moscow’s economy,” Bloomberg reports.

“US and NATO allies have rebuffed concerns about their ability to continue supporting Ukraine militarily in the aftermath of Gaza-based militant group Hamas’s attack on Israel, which already receives billions in aid from Washington every year.”

“Yet there’s a clear understanding in the Kremlin that the war between Israel and Hamas will work to Russia’s favor… The conflict may, at the very least, work to distract US and European attention from the war in Ukraine.”

“Someone in Gov. Sarah Sanders‘ office instructed state employees to write ‘to be reimbursed’ on a months-old invoice for a $19,000 lectern and specifically told them not to date the notation,” the Arkansas Times reports.

“That’s according to a newly unearthed email published on social media today by Jay Orsi, a citizen journalist who obtained it through a Freedom of Information Act request.”

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

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