Cup of Joe – October 21, 2023

For the third time, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) could not secure the majority of House members to become speaker with 25 Republicans voting against his candidacy and just 194 voting in favor. Jordan has now lost ground in every vote.

Rep. Hakeen Jeffries (D-NY) won 210, the most overall with all Democrats united behind him.

Every Republican holdout who met with Rep. Jim Jordan today told him they would not back his candidacy for House speaker, Punchbowl News reports. Some of the Republican holdouts who are against Rep. Jim Jordan for Speaker are refusing to meet with him or take his calls, Axios reports.

As the House gets ready to vote again for Speaker, Punchbowl News has this report: “A source describes the Jim Jordan meeting with the holdouts like this: A direct, precise meeting in which Jordan was told he will never be speaker. This group doesn’t want anything. They want Jordan to understand he will not be speaker.”

Meanwhile, CNN reports that one of the Republicans who voted against Jordan had to have a sheriff stationed at their daughter’s school because of threats.

A source close to Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) told Axios the landlord for one of his offices is terminating the lease presumably because of his vote against Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) for Speaker.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) called the increased attacks and threats on Rep. Jim Jordan’s opponents a “red herring,” Punchbowl News reports. Said Perry: “There are people out in the world that dislike us and threaten us. That’s nothing new. It’s nothing new to any member of Congress. We all know it. That is another red herring.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-CO) lost a secret ballot and is no longer the speaker designate for the House Republicans, Punchbowl News reports. The vote was 86 in favor of keeping Jordan, 112 in favor of moving on to someone else and 5 voting present.  Lawmakers are going home for the weekend. Republicans will hold a candidate forum Monday night with another vote for speaker on Tuesday.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) is making calls to run for speaker, Punchbowl News reports. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), who is also in leadership, is making calls to run for speaker, CNN reports.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is furious that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was “knifed by secret ballot, anonymously, in a closed-door meeting in the bowels of the Capitol,” the New York Times reports. Said Gaetz: “This was truly swamp tactics on display.”

Tom Nichols: “Like many Americans, I have been both fascinated and horrified by the inability of the Republican majority to elect a new speaker of the House. I admit to watching the votes like I’m rubbernecking at a car wreck, but perhaps that’s not a good analogy, because I at least feel pity for the victims of a traffic accident. What’s happening in the House is more like watching a group of obnoxious (and not very bright) hot-rodders playing chicken and smashing their cars into one another over and over.”

“As I watch all of this Republican infighting, I wonder, as I often do, about GOP voters. What is it that they think will happen if Jim Jordan becomes speaker? Jordan has been in Congress for 16 years, and he has almost nothing to show for it. He’s never originated any successful legislation, never whipped votes, never accomplished anything except for appearing on Fox and serving up rancid red meat to his Ohio constituents and MAGA allies.”

“And therefore, as speaker, he would… what?”

Daily Beast: The House GOP cannot even agree on not agreeing.

“Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry for the first time Friday publicly said he’s open to a vote that would formally expand his powers as the top House Republican,” Politico reports.

“Such a vote, which centrist GOP lawmakers have been floating for more than a week, would allow legislative business to function in the lower chamber after 17 turbulent days without a speaker.”

“The North Carolina Republican said he would be opposed to any kind of workaround in which the GOP pushes him to move legislation without a formal vote to expand his powers. He confirmed that he threatened to resign as acting speaker during a lengthy meeting with Republicans on Thursday if thrust into that situation, which he sees as potentially unconstitutional.”

Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) was photographed holding a resolution on the House floor to remove Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) as temporary speaker.

“We’re in a very bad place right now.”— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), to reporters after Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) failed again to win a majority for speaker. McCarthy told the Washington Post that history will look at the “insurmountable” damage done to the country by the small group of Republicans who ousted him from the speakership.

“In a closed-door meeting Thursday, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) told GOP colleagues he might resign as speaker pro tempore if Republicans push him to try to move legislation on the floor without an explicit vote to expand his powers,” NBC News reports.

Said McHenry: “If you guys try to do that, you’ll figure out who the next person on Kevin’s list is.”

“McHenry’s comments underscore the quandary Republicans are in: They can’t really do anything until they choose a new speaker, but they can’t agree on someone who can get the votes to be that new speaker.”

Tara Pameri: “So what does McCarthy actually want? According to some McCarthy allies, his reluctance to wash his hands of the succession drama stems from the fact that he’s spent a long time building an unrivaled fundraising infrastructure inside the conference. Since becoming minority leader, in 2019, McCarthy helped raise a billion dollars. In 2020, despite Trump’s loss, McCarthy helped flip 14 seats for women, minority members, or veterans. In this altruistic rendition of events, McCarthy simply wants to leave the conference in a good place.”

“And yet McCarthy seems invested in finding a speaker who would need him the most.”

Kenneth Chesebro, alleged architect of the “fake electors” plot, has struck a plea deal with prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Washington Post: “Chesebro pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to file false documents, and faces a prison sentence of one to five years. He also agreed to truthfully testify in the case against others.”

“In addition to flipping one of the key members of the alleged conspiracy, prosecutors now avoid a trial in which they would have had to showcase much of their evidence against Trump and others, which might have offered lawyers for others a legal advantage heading into other trials.”

Hamas has released two U.S. hostages — a mother and her daughter — “for humanitarian reasons” in response to Qatari mediation efforts, Reuters reports.

“The U.S. is planning to send Iron Dome batteries to the Israeli military as the war between Israel and Hamas intensifies,” Axios reports.

Axios: “Officials tell us that inside the White House, this was the heaviest, most chilling week since President Biden took office just over 1,000 days ago.”

“Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates — who ran the Pentagon under presidents of both parties, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — tells us America is facing the most crises since World War II ended 78 years ago.”

Said Gates: “There’s this gigantic funnel that sits over the table in the Situation Room. And all the problems in the world end up coming through that funnel to the same eight or 10 people. There’s a limit to the bandwidth those eight or 10 people can have.”

“Sidney Powell was the wildest of MAGA diehards — someone who swore long past the bitter end that Donald Trump won by a landslide in 2020, and insinuated that a long-dead Venezuelan dictator helped hatch a plot that flipped votes away from her guy. That’s why the former president and much of his inner circle didn’t think the conspiracy-addled lawyer would ever cooperate with prosecutors seeking to convict the ex-president,” Rolling Stone reports.

Said a lawyer close to Trump: “Crazy as she was, she really believed what she was pushing.”

“Her extreme convictions apparently weren’t enough to stop her from working with prosecutors seeking to imprison the former president. Powell pleaded guilty in Fulton County on Thursday and agreed to cooperate in the case against Trump.”

Arguably the biggest developments in any of the Trump prosecutions in weeks, Sidney Powell’s decision to plead guilty in the Coffey County caper and to cooperate with Atlanta DA Fani Willis changes the legal landscape considerably.

Powell’s conviction on six misdemeanor counts is a huge win for Willis, but I’m most intrigued by what impact Powell’s guilty plea has on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s work at the federal level. Since her guilty plea can be used against her by Smith, it’s hard for me to imagine her attorney not reaching out to Smith to try to negotiate a global deal. Still, we have no evidence that such a parallel deal was struck between Powell and Smith.

Either way, Powell’s cooperation spells bad news for Trump. She has already told Willis what she will testify to and provided documents.

Semafor: “President Joe Biden laid out his case for providing tens of billions of dollars worth of military aid to Ukraine and Israel during a rare Oval Office address on Thursday, in which he attempted to draw a direct link between the conflicts engulfing both countries.

“Hamas and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin represent different threats. But they share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy,” Biden said.

The address kicks off an aggressive push by the Biden administration to convince Congress to pass its proposed aid package for the two nations at a moment when political divisions threaten the bipartisan action needed to do so.

“It’s a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,” Biden said of the assistance request, which his administration is expected to detail on Friday. “I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. We can’t let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”

“We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win, I refuse to let that happen.”

We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must also without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia,” Biden said.

“To all of you hurting, those of you hurting, I want you to know, I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you: You’re all America. You’re all America.”

“And I know many of you in the Muslim American community, the Arab American community, the Palestinian American community, and so many others are outraged and hurting, saying to yourself, here we go again, with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.”

“Just last week, a mother was brutally stabbed. A little boy here in the United States, a little boy who just turned six years old was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea, Wadea, a proud American, a proud Palestinian American family. We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens.”

“America’s federal budget deficit appears to have roughly doubled over the year to $2 trillion, a surprising jump given the strength of the economy,” the New York Times reports.

“Administration officials have sought to blame Mr. Biden’s predecessor for the deficit surge. They say tax cuts passed by Republicans in 2017 and signed by Mr. Trump have shrunk revenue and left the country in a more dire fiscal situation.”

Jonathan Chait: “The central Republican attack line on Joe Biden has always been that he is not in charge of his own administration…”

“The Trump version of this attack is a characteristically deranged conspiracy theory, in which some other person, either Barack Obama or Kamala Harris, is actually running the presidency while decrepit Joe Biden is being spooned mouthfuls of apple sauce.”

“Meanwhile, less-deranged conservatives have made a more plausible version of this charge. The real power in the administration is the left-wing staff that makes all the policy decisions and has relegated Biden to the role of front man, reassuring the public he is sane and moderate while actually carrying out a radical agenda he only vaguely comprehends.”

“But Biden’s hawkish policy on Israel proves clearly that he is in control of his administration and is very capable of resisting the left.”

“The Biden administration formally asked Congress for $105 billion in emergency funding on Friday, including $10.6 billion in military support for Israel and $61.4 billion to continue providing weapons and economic assistance to Ukraine as it battles Russia,” the New York Times reports.

“The request also includes about $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Israel, Gaza and Ukraine.”

Playbook: “The good news for Joe Biden this week is that he’s suddenly very popular.”

“The bad news is that this burst of support for the American president is in Israel.”

“Since the shocking 10/7 attacks by Hamas, there have been four national polls in the U.S. that show Biden stuck where he’s been for a while now, with an approval rating averaging about 40%.”

“These numbers come as the news has been dominated by two stories playing out in splitscreen for two solid weeks: (1) a Republican party arguably showing itself at its worst in the House and (2) Biden arguably showing himself at his best in his response to the war between Israel and Hamas.”

“And so far the polling data shows … nothing has changed.”

New York Times: “In a fractured political moment at home and abroad, it is unclear whether President Biden can bring many Americans along.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday opted not to intervene in a legal fight over Louisiana’s disputed map of its six congressional districts, potentially delaying the adoption of one to replace a Republican-crafted version that a judge found unlawfully diluted the clout of Black voters,” Reuters reports.

The Jim Jordan speakership bid has uncorked right-wing extremism directed at fellow House GOPers, subjecting them to the same threats and harassment MAGA opponents and innocent bystanders have been experiencing for years.

CNN airs shocking voicemail to the wife of an unnamed GOP congressman from a Jim Jordan supporter: “We’re gonna be up your ass fucking nonstop.”

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) received this email: “If I see your face, I will whip all the hair out of your head you scumbag.”

NYT: “The harrowing experiences have provided a window into just how ugly the political discourse in the United States has become, and how the hard right in particular has normalized violent threats and intimidation.”

“Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a longtime member of the House Freedom Caucus, is keeping his distance from the right-wing group as tensions remain high over his opposition to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) bid to be House speaker,” Punchbowl News reports.

Said Buck: “I’ve stayed away from Freedom Caucus meetings because I don’t want them to think I’m spying on them. We disagree on this. I respect our disagreement. When this is over, I will engage again.”

Politico: “It seems that every day without a speaker brings a new release of pent-up anger from the House GOP, which is stuck in the bewildering position of technically controlling a chamber of Congress where it can’t even vote on bills. At the moment, their latest pick for speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), cannot win the gavel on the floor and yet still won’t end his campaign — preventing a half-dozen or more other ambitious GOP lawmakers from jumping into the race.”

“Republicans’ inability to elect a new leader is so acute that by Thursday, they squabbled over whether to empower a colleague who they wouldn’t elect to control the floor, only to jettison that idea hours later. Those talks about elevating Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) quickly grew nasty as conservatives accused fellow Republicans of pursuing a power-sharing arrangement with Democrats.”

“What went unsaid: Those same conservatives are loath to abandon Jordan’s doomed candidacy lest it underscore that their most influential voice couldn’t get the votes.”

Andrew Sullivan: “I know you know this, but it’s still vital to remember that a major political party is backing this incoherent, unhinged, fact-free narcissist to be president of the United States. It is therefore no surprise to discover that the same party is completely incapable of forming a stable majority in the House of Representatives because it too is incoherent, divided, unhinged, and narcissistic.”

“We’ve never had this amount of time without a Speaker in the history of the House. But then we’ve never had a majority party as utterly vacuous as this one.”

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

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