Cup of Joe – October 19, 2023

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) could not win the speakership again after 22 Republican lawmakers voted against him in a second round vote — more than the 20 that voted against him yesterday and significantly more than the four he could afford to lose.

Democrats were united once again for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).  House Republicans are expected to recess into a closed-door meeting to discuss next steps.  One possibility is to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) to act as speaker for a specified period of time so that the House can act on legislation again.

A spokesman for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Bloomberg that he’s not dropping out of the race to be Speaker of the House.  Why would an election denier ever concede that he lost?

Evan Coren looks at the similarities among the group of Republicans that voted against Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for speaker yesterday.

They fall into three groups: appropriators, swing district Republicans and New Yorkers.

Philip Bump: “Of the 18 districts held by Republicans that preferred Biden in 2020, six Republicans voted for someone other than Jordan. Twelve voted in support of Jordan, but that’s only 6 percent of Jordan’s votes. The six who rejected Jordan make up 30 percent of the anti-Jordan votes.”

Joe Perticone: “The holdouts all appear to agree that at least one thing is worse than any election denier with zero legislative wins in his 16-year career: a Democrat with the gavel.”

Said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL): “Remember, when you go to the floor—if we go to the floor—everybody votes for whoever they want. I think obviously number one, I will never, ever vote for a Democrat for speaker. Ever. No matter the circumstances.”

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), a key ally of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sets expectations: “Just so there’s no surprises: Jordan will likely have FEWER votes today than yesterday — as I expected. This is the fight — which Jim Jordan represents — to end the status quo, and it ain’t easy… Stay strong and keep praying.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) told NBC News: “Jordan is headed for defeat. He’ll fight to death likely, and we won’t let off. Their tactics angered us. They’re harassing our spouses even. Jordan hit a brick wall.”

“Multiple Republicans are predicting that Rep. Jim Jordan would lose even more votes if or when he moves to a third ballot,” Politico reports. One House Republican who voted for Jordan on both ballots told Axios that they won’t back the Ohioan on a third vote: “I’m not voting for him.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said he doesn’t expect another vote for speaker to happen today but insists he’s staying in the race, Punchbowl News reports.  Some of Jordan’s opponents told CNN they’ve been purposely staggering their “no” votes over multiple ballots — a strategy designed to show opposition is only growing.

Ronald Brownstein: “Representative Jim Jordan may or may not break down the last few Republican holdouts who blocked his election as House speaker yesterday. But the fact that about 90 percent of the House GOP conference voted to place him in the chamber’s top job marks an ominous milestone in the Republican Party’s reconfiguration since Donald Trump’s emergence as its central figure.”

“The preponderant majority of House Republicans backing Jordan is attempting to elevate someone who not only defended former President Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election but participated in them more extensively than any other member of Congress.”

“Jordan’s rise, like Trump’s own commanding lead in the 2024 GOP presidential race, provides more evidence that for the first time since the Civil War, the dominant faction in one of America’s two major parties is no longer committed to the principles of democracy as the U.S. has known them.”

Assuming Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) fails again to be elected speaker, Republicans must decide whether to immediately move to vote to empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) for some period of time or whether to recess and hold a closed House Republican Conference meeting, Punchbowl News reports.

CNN reports Jordan’s allies are pushing hard against empowering McHenry because he wants to keep fighting to become speaker himself.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was asked about a resolution to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) to be permanent acting Speaker. Said Jordan: “I don’t think that’s the right way to go. I think we should get a Republican Speaker. I got 90% of the Republicans in the conference supporting me.”

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said there are “precedents” to provide Speaker pro tem Patrick McHenry (R-NC) with “speaker-like powers,” while not being in line of succession, Semafor reports.  Said Ryan: “That’s probably where they’re going to end up if Jim Jordan can’t put it together.”

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said that giving Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry the authority to move legislation in the House “is a lot better solution than gridlock and chaos.”  Former Speaker John Boehner responded: “I agree.”

Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) is expected to file a motion to formally elect Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) following the second vote on Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) speakership today, assuming that the Ohio Republican falls short, Punchbowl News reports.  “The resolution needs 217 votes, meaning it will almost certainly need Democratic votes to pass. Republicans don’t anticipate negotiating with Democrats over the proposal — at least at the outset. We will have to see how Democrats react to the idea. But Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has floated the idea of supporting McHenry’s elevation.”

“A resolution of this nature could make McHenry speaker until the end of 2023 or sometime in early 2024 — or until a new speaker is elected.”

Punchbowl News: “Jordan had a rough, rough day. After 20 Republicans voted against him, Jordan has had difficulty shrinking his opposition, sources involved in the whip operation told us.”

“In fact, some Jordan opponents aren’t even agreeing to meet with the Ohio Republican. That’s not a good sign. Most of the Jordan opposition met privately after the vote. And almost everyone is going to continue to vote against Jordan.”

“Speaker candidate Jim Jordan (R-OH) told moderate New York holdouts he would support doubling the state-and-local tax deduction cap to $20,000,” Bloomberg Tax reports.  “The deal was not accepted.”  Who would trust Jordan to deliver on a deal when he’s never passed a bill?

Fox New host Sean Hannity’s “effort to personally whip up votes for Jordan highlights the central role that right-wing media has played in the weeks-long drama engulfing Capitol Hill over who will wield the speaker’s gavel,” the Washington Post reports.

“But the widely watched conservative pundit wasn’t only using his televised bully pulpit to pressure the holdouts. Hannity also spent the weekend personally calling several and having one of his producers reach out to others to lobby them on their vote.”

Donald Trump said he thinks Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will be successful in his bid to become speaker, The Messenger reports.  Said Trump: “As you know, many people have now supported him, who 24 hours ago they were supporting somebody else. There seems to be great unification. I think Jim Jordan will be a great speaker. I think he’s going to have the vote soon.”

After Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) became the party’s nominee for speaker last week, Jordan publicly backed him but privately undercut him.  Jordan is now getting his pay back.   After Jordan lost the first floor vote for speaker this afternoon, he met with Scalise and it did not go well.  Scalise reportedly refused to help Jordan shore up his vote count. And he refused to nominate Jordan ahead of second vote.   According to sources in the room, Jordan also blamed Scalise for failing to be a “team player.”   And Scalise’s allies are described as furious with the pressure and threats they’re getting from Jordan’s team.  It’s obvious there’s a lot bad blood between the two camps.

But the simple reality is that Jordan needs Scalise’s supporters to become speaker.  Seven of the 20 House Republicans who opposed Jordan during this afternoon’s first ballot voted for Scalise — even though he wasn’t a candidate. Those seven alone are more than enough to block Jordan from the top job.  If Jordan continues on his current path, that number seems likely to rise tomorrow.

Playbook: “As the GOP has drifted steadily right, their ranks have steadily thinned and their crucial role in making Congress work has become increasingly threatened. Being called a ‘moderate’ these days isn’t even really ideological — it’s about keeping your head down, building the relationships and making the compromises that have kept American democracy on track for 247 years.”

“For that flexibility — and their willingness to fall in line behind party leaders — they’ve earned themselves a sneering nickname from their own colleagues: ‘Squishes.’”

“So when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), godfather of the conservative hard-liners, won the Republican nomination to be elected speaker last week, you’d be forgiven for expecting them to, y’know, squish once again.”

“Turns out the moderates are vertebrates, after all.”

Washington Post: “Jordan has mostly surrounded himself with like-minded members of the House Freedom Caucus and other hard-right Republicans until recently, when he became a top ally of former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). He has done little to get to know others from less conservative districts — Jordan’s district voted for then-president Donald Trump by more than 35 points in 2020 — and doesn’t understand their needs. He has never had to build coalitions or work across the aisle. His 16 years in Congress have been spent blocking legislation and pushing his party to the right.”

“Jordan now needs almost every Republican on his side but has been unable to win some of them over.”

“He has used the tactics he knows — strong-arming by engaging his friends in conservative media and on social platforms, who have urged their followers to call holdouts’ offices — but those tactics have only worked on some, and Jordan needs all but four Republicans on his side. Soft diplomacy is not Jordan’s strong suit.”

“President Joe Biden is considering a supplemental request of approximately $100 billion that would include defense assistance for Israel and Ukraine alongside border security funding and aid to nations in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan,” Bloomberg reports.  “The comprehensive package seeks to leverage broad bipartisan support for Israel in the wake of the attack earlier this month by Hamas, which the US and EU have designated a terrorist organization, to help ease passage of aid for Ukraine, which has struggled to earn the favor of House Republicans.”

“President Biden, reaffirming U.S. support for its longtime ally in the war with Hamas, appeared to absolve Israel of responsibility for a deadly blast at a hospital in Gaza that has demonstrated the volatility of the conflict and heightened fears of escalation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Associated Press: Biden pledges solidarity with Israelis and suggests “other team” to blame for Gaza hospital blast.

“American officials say they have multiple strands of intelligence — including infrared satellite data — indicating that the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday was caused by Palestinian fighters,” the New York Times reports.

“The intelligence includes satellite and other infrared data showing a launch of a rocket or missile from Palestinian fighter positions within Gaza. American intelligence agencies have also analyzed open-source video of the launch showing that it did not come from the direction of Israeli military positions, the officials said. Israeli officials have also provided the United States with intercepts of Hamas officials saying the strike came from forces aligned with Palestinian militant groups.”

A senior Hamas official told NBC News the group is willing to immediately release all civilian hostages — foreign and Israeli — if Israel stops its airstrikes on Gaza.  The Hamas official said the hostages could be released within the hour as long as Israel meets its terms.

“President Biden announced a deal Wednesday with Israel to allow humanitarian assistance to move into Gaza from Egypt. U.S. officials have spent the past few days pressing Israel to allow humanitarian assistance to reach Gaza,” the Washington Post reports.

“I caution this while you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the US. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes… The vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.” — President Biden, speaking in Israel.

“Special counsel Jack Smith has withdrawn a subpoena seeking records about fundraising by the political action committee Save America — a group that is controlled by former president Donald Trump and whose activities related to efforts to block the results of the 2020 presidential election have come under investigation,” the Washington Post reports. “The withdrawal of the subpoena earlier this month indicates Smith is scaling back at least part of his inquiry into the political fundraising work that fed and benefited from unfounded claims that the election was stolen.”

Donald Trump returned Tuesday to the Manhattan courthouse for his New York civil fraud trial, marking his fourth appearance at the proceeding in less than a month, Axios reports.

“A judge warned Donald Trump and others at his New York civil fraud trial to keep their voices down Wednesday after the former president threw up his hands in frustration and spoke aloud to his lawyers while a witness was testifying against him,” the AP reports.

Politico: “Trump’s firehose of civil and criminal encumbrances is beginning to keep him off the campaign trail — and he wants everybody to know it.”

Emails show Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesbro explicitly acknowledged in late 2020 that efforts to challenge the election would likely fail legally but could still serve a political end, the New York Times reports.  Chesbro has argued that he “acted within his capacity as a lawyer.” 

“Donald Trump’s decision to declassify evidence given by ex-British spy Christopher Steele over the former U.S. president’s alleged links with Russia led to the disappearance of two sources, Steele said in court documents made public on Tuesday,” Reuters reports.  “Steele said in a witness statement that Trump’s decision to declassify his 2017 testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was ‘one of the most egregious breaches of intelligence rules and protocol by the US government in recent times.’”  Said Steele: “Two of the named Russian sources have not been seen or heard of since.”

Former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelly (R) was sentenced to 60 days in prison for committing a federal crime during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, NBC News reports.  Kelley was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, who said he had “some serious concerns” that Kelley was “truly remorseful,” citing fundraising appeals Kelley made two years after the riot suggesting Jan. 6 was a so-called false flag event.

new filing from Special Counsel Jack Smith Monday shows the lengths Trump is going to impede and delay his prosecution in the Mar-a-Lago case – but it also shows Smith fiercely fighting each attempt by Trump to buy a few more days or weeks. This will be a battle of attrition, with Judge Cannon clearly a big obstacle for Smith.

Donald Trump is seeking legal redress in London against Christopher Steele and his firm for the notorious Steele dossier. Specifically, Trump is seeking damages for alleged violations of Britain’s data protection laws.  “Donald Trump wants to give evidence in a London court to prove claims Russia supported his 2016 election campaign are false, the former U.S. president’s lawyers said on Monday as he bid to continue his case against a British private investigations firm,” the Reuters reports.

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

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