Cup of Joe – October 24, 2023

Nine Republican candidates have officially declared to run for speaker. An internal party conference election will occur today.

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, RSC Chair Kevin Hern, Reps. Byron Donalds, Austin Scott, Jack Bergman, Pete Sessions, Gary Palmer and Dan Meuser have all alerted House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik they will run.

“House speaker candidate Tom Emmer, the GOP whip, has moved to lock in support across the ideological and geographic spectrum in the conference, giving him what many House Republicans believe is an advantage heading into a secret-ballot election to nominate their candidate Tuesday,“ CNN reports.

“But it’s hard to assess his chances fully since it’s a crowded field, with at least seven candidates working the phones all weekend to win a majority of support within the conference.”

“Even if Emmer were to win the nomination, Republican sources are uncertain he can get 217 votes on the floor, as he could face resistance from members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus skeptical of the GOP leadership team.”

Playbook: “In a field of short-timers and back-benchers, Emmer stands out: The Minnesota Republican helped the GOP claw its way back into the majority as a two-time NRCC chair. Not only has he won chits from colleagues by raising money and campaigning across the country, he has spent the past nine months as whip building relationships among conservatives and centrists alike.”

“But Emmer has a Donald Trump problem. The former president has told associates that he doesn’t want Emmer for the job. And Trump’s allies have already taken to social media and talk radio to pan him as too out of step with the leader of their party.”

Said one GOP lawmaker: “He’s openly hostile to Trump, which isn’t helpful since Trump will be the nominee. It’s laughable that he, at the end of the day, would end up being the speaker of the House. Even if he gets the majority of the majority, he will come far short for members who won’t vote for him on the floor.”

Punchbowl News: “It’s hard to fully grasp the scale of this disaster for House Republicans and the Congress as a whole. But one thing is clear — the American public is fed up with the standoff.”

“Even if GOP lawmakers are able to agree among themselves on a speaker soon — far from guaranteed based on what’s happened during the last several weeks — they’ve now spent the better part of a month on this internecine battle. They’ll have gained nothing while their three most high-profile members — former speaker Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan — have either been ousted or rejected by their colleagues.”

“And whoever finally gets the speaker’s gavel will preside over a House Republican Conference riven by anger and bitterness. We’re not sure what, if anything, House Republicans can accomplish during the remainder of this Congress.”

Playbook: “The ousted speaker is showing no signs of retreating to the back benches, let alone leaving politics. He’s still ensconced in the speaker’s suite, for now, and he got prime billing on yesterday’s Meet the Press, where he endorsed Emmer but also did not rule out a comeback under persistent questioning from NBC’s Kristen Welker.”

Said McCarthy: “I’m still a member of Congress, and I’m going to lead in any capacity to protect America.”

Rolling Stone: “Nearly two weeks ago, media reported that Donald Trump reportedly revealed information about U.S. nuclear submarine capabilities to Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt. And on Sunday, 60 Minutes Australia played recordings of secret tapes where Pratt disclosed other non-public information Trump shared with him, including information about U.S. military operations in Iraq and Trump’s conversations with the presidents of Iraq and Ukraine.”

“According to Pratt, Trump shared a lot with him, such as information about U.S. bombings in Iraq before they were publicly reported.”

Said Pratt: “He’s outrageous. He just says whatever the fuck he wants, and he loves to shock people.”

Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt once claimed that Donald Trump, while he was president, asked his wife Melania to walk around Mar-a-Lago in a bikini “so all the other guys could get a look at what they were missing,” according to covertly recorded conversations aired by 60 Minutes Australia.

The former First Lady responded: “I’ll do that when you walk around with me in your bikini.”

Donald Trump lashed out at reports alleging that he had discussed sensitive information concerning U.S. nuclear submarines with “red haired weirdo” Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt, the Daily Beast reports.

“The battle to decide who will run crisis-wracked Argentina is heading to a run off vote next month between left wing candidate Sergio Massa and far right libertarian Javier Milei, according to data released by Argentina’s National Electoral Chamber after the first round of voting on Sunday,”  CNN reports.

“After polls closed Massa received the highest number of votes – 8,877,325, accounting for 36.33% of the total, data revealed. Milei received 7,373,876 votes – roughly 30.18%.”

“Third place candidate Patricia Bullrich got 23.82% and conceded defeat late Sunday night.”

“Frustrated voters in Argentina weighed whether to hand the presidency to a right-wing populist who has shaken up the political system and pledges to drastically overhaul the state if he wins an election taking place Sunday,” the AP reports. “Javier Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist who admires former U.S. President Donald Trump, sent shockwaves through the nation after receiving the most votes in the August primaries. The chainsaw-wielding economist and first-year lawmaker has said he will slash public spending, halve the number of government ministries, eliminate the central bank and replace the local currency with the U.S. dollar.”

El Pais: Argentina to elect president amid the threat of the far-right.

CNN: “The pleas are a stark display of the reality that the Georgia case against Trump and his co-defendants is getting stronger…”

“Chesebro directly implicated Trump in a criminal conspiracy, and his plea establishes for the first time that the fake electors plot was illegal. Notably, Chesebro has now admitted that ‘the purpose’ of the fake electors conspiracy was to ‘disrupt and delay the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021,’ which is a key element of the federal charges Trump is facing.”

“Israel has confirmed that 212 people are being held hostage in Gaza, the military spokesperson said on Sunday, adding that Israeli strikes overnight killed dozens of Palestinian fighters, including the deputy chief of Hamas rocket forces,” Reuters reports.

“Israeli warplanes struck targets across Gaza overnight and into Sunday, as well as two airports in Syria and a mosque in the occupied West Bank allegedly used by militants, as the 2-week-old war with Hamas threatened to spiral into a broader conflict,” the AP reports.

“Fears mounted Sunday that the Israel-Gaza war could swell into a wider conflict amid rising cross-border attacks on Israel’s north from Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and expanding Israeli airstrikes across the region,” the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg: “Israel supports diplomatic efforts to get Hamas to release hostages from Gaza quickly and in large numbers, a move that could delay and possibly alter its ground war, according to people familiar with the negotiations.”

“The place of hostage releases in Israel’s military planning took on concrete meaning on Friday, when an American mother and her 19-year-old daughter from Chicago were set free through the mediation of Qatar. The US is pushing the wealthy Gulf state, which hosts some political leaders of Hamas, to do much more, the people said.”

New York Times: “The Biden administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza, hoping to buy time for hostage negotiations and to allow more humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the sealed-off enclave, according to several U.S. officials.”

CNN: U.S. seeks delay of Israeli ground incursion for more time for hostage talks.

Associated Press: “As expectations grow that Israel will soon launch a ground offensive aimed at rooting out Hamas militants who rule the Gaza Strip, Biden finds himself facing anew the difficult balancing act of demonstrating full-throated support for America’s closest ally in the Middle East while trying to also press the Israelis to act with enough restraint to keep the war from spreading into a broader conflagration.”

“Biden has literally, and figuratively, wrapped Netanyahu in a warm embrace since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. He’s repeatedly promised to have Israel’s back as it aims to take out the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip and carried out the brutal attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis and captured more than 200 others.”

New York Times: “In the House, Republicans are casting about for a new leader, mired in an internecine battle marked by screaming, cursing and a fresh flood of candidates. In the Senate, their party is led by Senator Mitch McConnell, who spent weeks arguing that he remained physically and mentally fit enough for the position after freezing midsentence in two public appearances. And on the 2024 campaign trail, the dominant front-runner, Donald J. Trump, faces 91 felony charges across four cases, creating a drumbeat of legal news that often overwhelms any of his party’s political messages.”

“As national Democrats largely stand behind President Biden and his agenda — more united than in years — Republicans are divided, directionless and effectively leaderless.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CBS News that he’s “completely recovered” and he’s “back on the job” after his health came into focus this summer.

Washington Post: “Trump’s team spurned her. Federal prosecutors demanded her fundraising records. She was ordered to pay sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit in Michigan. The State Bar of Texas lodged a disciplinary complaint against her. Two companies that make voting software sued her.”

“All that was before prosecutors began filing criminal charges. In August, she appeared as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal indictment accusing Trump of trying to subvert the election, and, later that month, she was charged alongside him in a Georgia case brought by Atlanta-area prosecutors.”

“On Thursday, Powell resolved the Georgia case by pleading guilty to six misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to interfere with the performance of election duties. Her plea related to her involvement with a secretive effort to access and copy election software in rural Coffee County, Ga. in the months after the 2020 election — part of an attempt to prove Democrats might have tampered with the machines.”

Politico: “In 2018, Republicans, Democrats and then-President Donald Trump united around legislation that threw $20 billion into treatment, prevention and recovery [of and from opioid addiction]. But five years later, the SUPPORT Act has lapsed and the number of Americans dying from overdoses has grown more than 60 percent, driven by illicit fentanyl. The battle has turned into a slog.”

Washington Post: “Over the past two years, Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens have signaled plans to shutter more than 1,500 stores, and public health experts say there’s already been fallout.”

Wall Street Journal: “The record numbers of people entering the country illegally aren’t the only reason border communities are struggling in Texas and shelters are full as far away as Massachusetts. In the past, most migrants were single adults from Mexico looking for work. If caught by the Border Patrol, they could easily and quickly be deported.”

“Now, a fast-growing share are families with children, who are difficult to deport to their home countries. The change started around 2014 and has exploded in the past two years.”

“Many families are fleeing gang violence in Central America, though recently a growing number are escaping political repression and poverty in South America. After crossing into the U.S., they typically surrender to the first border agent they find.”

Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) told CBS News that Republicans’ current chaos in its search for a leader is a “direct result of the decisions that Kevin McCarthy made to embrace Donald Trump and the most radical and extreme members of our party.”

Washington Post: “Rather than unifying the group and claiming the most important job in Congress, Jordan further repelled older colleagues who never trusted his recent makeover. He also infuriated newer colleagues who saw the bullying campaign on his behalf as unseemly and dangerous.”

 “This is embarrassing for the Republican Party, embarrassing for the nation.” — Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), quoted by CNBC, on the inability of House Republicans to pick a speaker.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) warned that the House GOP conference poses a “very real danger” of electing a Speaker and then in a few weeks going “back into the same mess,” The Hill reports.

Said Gingrich: “There’s a very real danger that the House will elect somebody, and three or four or five weeks from now, you’re going to have a group of people blow up and decide to go back into the same mess. So they need to pick somebody to get stability.”

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