Cup of Joe – October 22, 2023

A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza for the first time since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas militants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off and began pounding it with airstrikes following Hamas’ bloody rampage two weeks ago,” the AP reports.

“Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. More than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid have been waiting nearby for days.”

“The Friday release of two American hostages by Hamas illuminated what remains a breakneck endeavor within the U.S. government to negotiate the freedom of others still in captivity, amid grim expectations that an impending Israeli ground invasion of Gaza will render those efforts forbiddingly difficult,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Biden is taking a dual-track approach to the Gaza crisis — standing staunchly beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in public while trying to hold him back in private,” Axios reports.

“The U.S. supports Israel but doesn’t want to get drawn into another large or protracted military operation in the Middle East. Threading that needle is the Biden administration’s biggest challenge right now.”

Peter Wehner: “The significance of President Joe Biden’s Oval Office address to the nation last night was signaled in the opening sentence: ‘We’re facing an inflection point in history.’”

“What followed was a speech that may well define Biden’s presidency.”

“The proximate cause for the speech was Biden’s desire to urge Americans to stand with Israel in its war against Hamas and Ukraine in its war against Russia. The president is expected to ask Congress for emergency assistance for the two nations in a $100 billion spending package. But the speech was not primarily about money; it was about America’s teleology, about how Biden sees the role of the United States in a world that is fraying and aflame.”

“Biden used phrases loaded with meaning. America is ‘the arsenal of democracy,’ he said, invoking a phrase from a 1940 speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt. But in case that wasn’t clear enough, Biden said America is ‘the essential nation’ and the ‘indispensable nation.’”

“House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) is the frontrunner in a massive field of candidates for speaker now that the House Republican Conference has ousted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as their speaker designate,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Emmer nabbed an important endorsement right out of the gate. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy told us Friday afternoon that Emmer is ‘the right person for the job. He can unite the conference. He understands the dynamics of the conference. He also understands what it takes to win and keep a majority.’”

But here’s the kicker: “Since we broke the Emmer news, we’ve gotten a number of calls from sources associated with former President Donald Trump’s orbit saying they will try to derail Emmer’s candidacy.”

“Former President Donald Trump privately conveyed to allies on Friday he does not back House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s bid for speaker, throwing another wrench into an already chaotic process to find the next person to hold the gavel,” Politico reports.

“A sustained offensive from Trump, if one materializes, could spell doom, as any candidate for the job can only afford to lose a handful of votes.”

CNN: “Frustrations and divisions have only intensified within the conference as Republicans search for a way to resolve the impasse. That, along with the GOP’s narrow majority, has made it increasingly unclear whether any candidate will be able to secure the 217 votes needed to win the gavel on the House floor.”

“The House, meanwhile, remains in a state of paralysis as Republicans struggle to coalesce around a speaker candidate, with the chamber effectively frozen amid the threat of a government shutdown next month and conflict unfolding abroad.”

“As Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) waged his battle to become House speaker, some House Republicans were uncomfortable with the possibility of having an election denier occupying the most powerful legislative seat in the U.S. government heading into a presidential election year,” the Washington Post reports.

“Along with several of his peers in the House Republican conference, Jordan refused to comply with a subpoena for testimony from the House Select Committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Throughout the course of its investigation, the committee unearthed evidence that Jordan had materially relevant communications with Trump and others about activities pertaining to Jan. 6.”

Ron Brownstein: “The escalating confrontation between Israel and Hamas is offering President Joe Biden a crucial opportunity to begin flipping the script on one of his most glaring vulnerabilities in the 2024 presidential race.”

“For months, polls have consistently shown that most Americans believe Biden’s advanced age has diminished his capacity to handle the responsibilities of the presidency. But many Democrats believe that Biden’s widely praised response to the Mideast crisis could provide him a pivot point to argue that his age is an asset because it has equipped him with the experience to navigate such a complex challenge.”

Molly Ball: “The House has had no speaker since Gaetz made a motion to vacate the position, then joined on Oct. 3 with seven other Republicans and 208 Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the role. Rep. Jim Jordan, the archconservative Ohio Republican whom Gaetz calls a mentor, this week failed on three ballots to secure the majority of the body’s votes, losing support on each roll call and then bowing out of the race Friday afternoon. No one else seems to have a clear path to 217 GOP votes for the position.”

“Many of his colleagues blame Gaetz for the paralysis and acrimony that have ensued. When Gaetz rose to speak in a closed-door party meeting on Thursday, McCarthy told him to ‘sit your ass down,’ and another Republican, Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois, cursed and lunged at Gaetz.”

“A Manhattan judge tore into former President Donald Trump on Friday for failing to delete a post attacking his clerk on his campaign page, weeks after the imposition of a gag order,” The Messenger reports.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron asked why Trump shouldn’t face “serious sanctions” for his “blatant violation of the gag order,” such as fines or “possibly imprisoning him.”

The judge presiding over the civil fraud trial of Donald Trump fined the former president $5,000 on Friday for violating the terms of a gag order imposed this month, the New York Times reports.

“Donald Trump’s lawyers asked a federal judge on Friday to lift a narrow gag order imposed on him in his 2020 election interference case while the former president pursues a challenge to the ruling aimed at reining in his incendiary rhetoric,” the AP reports.

“Trump’s legal team wants U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to pause her gag order ruling issued earlier this week, pending review by higher courts.”

“After a mini-saga in the classified documents case against Donald Trump, both of the former president’s co-defendants have waived concerns that their attorneys have represented witnesses in the case,” CNN reports.

“The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily allowed the Biden administration to continue its efforts to get social media companies to remove posts from their platforms that the government says are misleading,” the Washington Post reports.

“Even before Senator Mitt Romney of Utah announced he would not seek re-election next year, he made no secret of his disapproval of the direction of the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump’s grip on it,” the New York Times reports.

“But in a new, deeply reported biography, Romney: A Reckoning, set to be released next week, Mr. Romney goes beyond his broad disdain for the party and gives his unvarnished opinion of some of his fellow Republicans.”

“Such tell-all, insider books often foster a practice known as the ‘Washington read,’ in which boldfaced names immediately flip through the index to find out what damaging assessments may come to haunt them.”

A politically connected Detroit synagogue president was found stabbed dead this morning outside her home, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Dennis Cheng, a longtime Hillary Clinton aide and fundraiser, is preparing to join the White House as deputy political director,” Axios reports.

NYT: “The judge in Alex Jones’s bankruptcy case ruled on Thursday that he will not be allowed to use his Chapter 11 filing to evade paying more than $1 billion in verdicts to families of the Sandy Hook shooting.”

It looks like the Justice Department unleashed its considerable internal legal firepower in drafting this brief in the Jan. 6 case opposing Trump’s claims that the president enjoys absolute immunity from criminal prosecution.

A fake Trump elector in Michigan has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with state prosecutors in return for the dropping of all charges against him.

“The leader of the D.C.-based General Services Administration worked remotely from Missouri most of the time in the year after the agency’s “full re-entry” plan called employees back to their offices,” Axios reports.

“An associate circuit court judge was shot on the driveway of his home in Hagerstown, Maryland Thursday night and later died in a hospital,” CBS News reports.

A new YouGov poll finds that by a 43% to 36% margin, Republicans now disapprove of the removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker.

“A U.S. Navy warship operating in the Middle East intercepted multiple projectiles near the coast of Yemen on Thursday,” CNN reports.

“One of the officials said the missiles were fired by Iranian-backed Houthi militants, who are engaged in an ongoing conflict in Yemen. Approximately 2-3 missiles were intercepted, according to the second official.”

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