Cup of Joe – October 15, 2023

In a second secret ballot in the House Republican Conference, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) got just 155 votes from members would said they vote for him on the House floor, with 55 saying they would not. Jordan is far short of the 217 votes he would need to win the speakership.  This makes Kevin McCarthy’s eight defections look pretty small in comparison.

Jordan won the House Republican Conference nomination to be speaker, defeating Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), 124 to 81. It’s important to note that Scott didn’t want the job and didn’t campaign for the job. He put his name in less than an hour before the filing deadline. This was an incredibly disappointing outcome for Jordan.

Jordan needs the support of 93 more Republicans to be elected speaker by the full House. There are at least 20 “hard nos” against Jordan. He can lose only four Republicans since all Democrats will oppose him. That seems a nearly impossible hurdle since most of those who opposed him are still loyal to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). So Jordan essentially took out Scalise earlier this week, but in doing so he killed himself.

Punchbowl News: “It seems completely possible that not a single Republican will be able to win the speakership with GOP votes only. Remember, McCarthy was booted from the job by just eight defectors.”

“In fact, the strongest speaker candidate right now is House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who will have all 212 Democratic votes.”

Key thing to watch: “Some GOP lawmakers will start considering forming a coalition leadership structure with Democrats. This will be unpalatable to a huge number of Republicans.”

Politico: “It would be hard to overstate the frustration and resentment among House Republicans right now – at the end of a week that broke their conference’s chaos meter.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blamed the Democrats for the Republican’s inability to elect a new Speaker: “All the Democrats voted to try to bring chaos.”

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), a member of the GOP leadership team, plans to jump into the speaker’s race if Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) can’t secure the 217 votes needed by early next week, NBC News reports.

“Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza is ‘imminent,’ two Israeli officials said Friday, confirming that the much-anticipated operation will happen in the coming hours or days,” Politico reports.

“Such an maneuver has been expected ever since Hamas barbarically attacked Israel last week, killing around 1,300 people and taking 150 hostages, some of them Americans.”

New York Times: “An initial deadline of 24 hours that Israel gave to the United Nations for people to relocate came and went, after the military softened its stance and said that it understood that ‘it will take time’ for civilians to leave. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled to the south were struggling on Saturday to find food, water or a place to shelter. Displaced families crammed into schools and hospitals, while others had spent the night sleeping out in the open.”

“But many Gazans chose not to heed the evacuation warning and stayed put, out of defiance, lack of means or fear they wouldn’t be allowed to return.”

“Residents of Gaza braced for a lengthy assault by the Israeli military, which on Friday demanded a mass evacuation of some of the territory’s most densely populated neighborhoods,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Early Friday, Israel’s military airdropped fliers over Gaza City, warning civilians that they should move south in advance of a military operation against Hamas.”

Said an Israeli Defense spokesman: “It will be lengthy. It will be lethal. It will be powerful. And it will be for forever.”

“American citizens in the Gaza Strip may be allowed to leave on Saturday,” Bloomberg reports.  “Still, while Israel and Egypt have said they can exit via the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, it’s unclear if Hamas will agree to that.”

“Hamas created detailed plans to target elementary schools and a youth center in the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Sa’ad, to ‘kill as many people as possible,’ seize hostages and quickly move them into the Gaza Strip,” NBC News reports.

“The attack plans, which are labeled ‘top secret’ in Arabic, appear to be orders for two highly trained Hamas units to surround and infiltrate villages and target places where civilians, including children, gather. Israeli authorities are still determining the death toll in Kfar Sa’ad.”

“The documents were found on the bodies of Hamas terrorists by Israeli first responders… The documents include detailed maps and show that Hamas intended to kill or take hostage civilians and school children.”

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is on video yelling at a man and calling him “human scum” at the top of his lungs.

The man was apparently a protester regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, who Santos said “has no business” being at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Santos was seen leaving Rep. Tim Burchett’s (R-TN) office with a baby in his arms. When asked if it was his baby, he responded: “Not yet.”

“Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, lied in sworn testimony on Tuesday when questioned about Donald Trump’s penthouse atop Trump Tower,” Forbes reports.

 “Weisselberg was on the stand as part of a $250 million lawsuit that the New York attorney general is waging against Trump and his associates, including Weisselberg, accusing them of lying about Trump’s net worth to financial institutions. To arrive at inflated figures, the Trump Organization used demonstrably incorrect facts, such as valuing Trump’s penthouse as if it contained 30,000 square feet, when it in fact consisted of 10,996.”

“Under questioning, Weisselberg acknowledged that the 30,000-square-foot figure was wrong. He tried to suggest, however, that he had little to do with the bogus calculation…”

“But that’s not true. A review of old emails and notes, some of which the attorney general’s office does not possess, show that Weisselberg absolutely thought about Trump’s apartment—and played a key role in trying to convince Forbes over the course of several years that it was worth more than it really was.”

Donald Trump said that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) may have done a “tremendous favor” for the House Republicans by ousting Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Tampa Free Press reports.

Said Trump: “Well, he was upset that Kevin was doing a lot of the Obama work, he was working on the budget and getting something approved that, you know, we could have gotten a lot for, and the debt ceiling, everybody was hurt with that.”

He added: “At the same time, Kevin’s a great guy, he is a wonderful guy, but people were hurt by that. It depends, I mean, on how good the new speaker, whoever that may be, how good he does. Maybe we’ll end up with one of the great speakers of all time, in which case Matt Gaetz did a tremendous favor.”

“Donald Trump falsely characterized Israel’s role in his administration’s assassination of Iran’s top general during remarks this week,” NBC News reports.

“Trump said Wednesday that Israel planned to be part of the January 2020 operation that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani but abruptly backed out the night before it was to take place.”

“But the U.S. officials familiar with the planning said Trump’s comments are entirely false.”

Said one former official: “They were never on board with it. They always thought it was a dangerous and destabilizing idea.”

“Democrats are standing firm in their refusal to bail out the House Republican majority as it struggles to elect a new speaker 10 days after after booting Rep. Kevin McCarthy,” NBC News reports.

“They’re also dialing up the rhetoric against the GOP’s new nominee for speaker, prominent Donald Trump ally Jim Jordan of Ohio, blasting him as an insurrectionist, election denier and extremist.”

Axios: House leaves town as GOP again fails to find a speaker.

Charlie Sykes: “I’m sure the perks of the jobs are nice. There’s the office with the porch and a great view, the gavel, the power, the ego strokes, and the portrait that Kevin McCarthy wanted so badly. And you get to be called ‘Mr. Speaker’—for a few months before you get tossed in the ash can of history alongside Denny Hastert, John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Kevin McCarthy.”

“As things stand, it’s the worst job in American politics — presiding over a fractious bunch of Republicans held hostage by (Ben Wittes’s phrase) the crazed slavering jackal caucus. But, since it’s Washington, there’s always someone who thinks that this time will be different.”

A new AP-NORC poll finds that 35% of U.S. adults believe President Biden himself has done something illegal in connection with his son’s business dealings, while an additional 33% say they think the president behaved unethically, but not illegally.

Just 30% say Biden did nothing wrong.

“The White House said on Friday that North Korea has delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine,” the AP reports.

“Speculation about a possible North Korean plan to refill Russia’s munition stores drained in its protracted war with Ukraine flared last month, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin and visit key military sites.”

“A financial consultant who performed contract work for the IRS pleaded guilty Thursday to leaking reams of confidential tax returns filed by the wealthiest Americans, including those of then-President Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“The news organizations published blockbuster reports based on the trove of data, showing how Trump and the wealthiest Americans employed financial strategies to slash their federal tax bills, in some cases down to zero.”

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) told Stephen Colbert that America “is not sending their best and brightest” to represent them in Congress.

Said Fetterman: “Sometimes you literally just can’t believe like, these people are making the decisions that are determining the government here. It’s actually scary.”

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