Cup of Joe – October 25, 2023

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) won the Republican nomination for speaker. Emmer won on the fifth ballot, beating Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), 117 to 97. But the victory was shortived. House Republicans took a roll call vote testing Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) candidacy for speaker and 26 said they would vote for someone else if his nomination is brought to the House floor.

Thus, Emmer dropped out of the race for speaker, the Washington Post reports. He is the third GOP nominee to fail or withdraw since Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted three weeks ago.

Then House Republicans voted Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) to be the next Speaker Nominee with 85 votes, but he’s still short of a majority. But very troubling for Republicans is that 30 of their members voted for people not even running.

Jake Sherman: “Let’s be clear what people think here. People thing McCarthy world is pushing members to hold back votes to eventually put McCarthy back in the speakership. This seems like an extreme long shot to me.”

NBC News: “Amid the impasse, McCarthy is floating a plan that would reinstall him as speaker and make Jordan, a conservative Trump ally, the assistant speaker.”

“Asked why the idea — which lacks key details, like how it would be enacted and whether it could even gain enough traction to happen — was being floated now, a GOP lawmaker replied: ‘We’re desperate.’”

Washington Post: “One motion regaining traction: Rep. Dave Joyce’s (R-OH) resolution empowering Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) until Jan. 3, 2024. Republicans rebuked it last week, and Joyce did not introduce it formally because more Democrats than Republicans would have voted in support of it on the House floor.”

“But now that more Republicans have privately shown willingness to back the effort because of repeated failed attempts to elect a speaker themselves, two sources familiar with the motion say that it has enough support from both parties to pass on the House floor. Like everything else, it remains unclear when that could be introduced, but it would be done so under privilege, meaning it gives the House 48 hours to take it up.”

Here are some other remaining candidates for Speaker:

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK): He’s the head of the Republican Study Committee, so has ties to leadership and is well-known within the Republican caucus. He voted against certifying the 2020 election.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA): He’s the Republican Conference’s vice chair, but helped defend Trump during his two impeachment trials in the Senate. He voted against certifying the 2020 election.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL): He’s a right-winger in the mold of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), but came to prominence nationally in January as a protest candidate for those who opposed McCarthy’s speakership bid. He voted against certifying the 2020 election.

Based on the events of the last three weeks, it’s a tough path to the 217 votes on the House floor for any of them to win.

Just two of the nine House Republicans running for speaker — Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Austin Scott — voted to certify President Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, Politico reports.

CNN: House enters third week without speaker as nine Republicans vie for gavel.

“There’s going to be a lot of scars in this fight and those scars are going to last a long time in the party.”— Former Rep. John Katko (R-NY), quoted by Politico, on the inability of Republicans to pick a speaker.

“They just can’t believe that we’re this bad.”— Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), when asked by CNN how his constituents view the dysfunction in the House amid Republican infighting.

“Very poorly. Very, very poorly from every aspect. And it’s frustrating because it’s just a few, these eight, working with all the Democrats to ruin the reputation of the Republicans.”— Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), talking to reporters about how the GOP’s inability to elect a Speaker reflects on them.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday blasted the Republican Party for the delay in electing a new House Speaker, The Messenger reports.

Said Christie: “We’ve gotten through two nominees of the party since Kevin McCarthy, it’s an embarrassment. It’s an embarrassment to the party and to the country. And my view is just pick somebody now.”

The House Freedom Caucus issued a statement saying that House Republicans should not leave Washington again until we have a new Speaker of the House.

Donald Trump has given the green light for his allies to attack House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) in his bid for speaker, the Washington Post reports.

Playbook: “Of course, telling his allies to attack is not the same thing as Trump himself speaking out against Emmer — and, as we just saw with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Trump is no hegemon in the House GOP Conference.”

“Donald Trump’s allies are circulating a 216-page opposition-research book to damage GOP Rep. Tom Emmer in his bid to become the next speaker of the rudderless House of Representatives,” The Messenger reports.

“The dossier – which covers everything from an old DUI arrest and his views on normalizing relations with Cuba to his vote supporting gay marriage – is part of a multi-pronged effort to stop Emmer from becoming speaker by Republican allies of Trump.”

Playbook: “It may be that unity won’t come until there’s enough rounds of bloodletting that everyone feels they have been able to exact some revenge on an enemy — sort of like a House version of the movie ‘The Purge,’ where an orgy of violence is allowed for 12 hours.”

“Everyone gets it out of their system and then everything returns to ‘normal,’ though things are never quite the same.”

Nate Cohn analyzed the votes House Republicans took on Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) bid to become speaker.

“None of these votes offer a perfect measure of House Republicans. Alone, each is an incomplete account, shaped by different questions posed to Republican members under varying circumstances and even different rules. But together, they offer a detailed picture of how Republicans responded to the Jordan candidacy.”

“The votes suggest that nearly half of congressional Republicans are sympathetic to Mr. Jordan and the conservative right wing, putting anti-establishment outsiders within striking distance of becoming the predominant faction in the House Republican conference. It suggests that the party’s right wing could, under circumstances not necessarily too different from those today, make a serious bid for House leadership — and win.”

New York Times: “Republicans have made no secret of their divisions. They openly refer to their various factions as The Five Families — a reference to warring Mafia crime families. They consist of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, the conservative Republican Study Committee, the business-minded Main Street Caucus, the mainstream Republican Governance Group and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.”

“During his nine months as speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California tried to smooth over the tensions by holding weekly meetings of those groups. But the job proved almost impossible.”

“There are factions within the factions. A hard-right group calling itself The 20 includes many members of the Freedom Caucus, but some lawmakers who are not. Some members are loyal to others from their home states; some to their committee chairs. There are wild cards who are members of no ideological caucus. There are personal vendettas that have nothing to do with ideology.”

Matt Glassman: “By my count, the House GOP was in conference meeting for something like 20+ hours between October 10th and 20th. That’s insane. Imagine going to a 3 hour PTA meeting every night for a week, with 10 people you like and 200 you tolerate. Now imagine Matt Gaetz is there.”

“It’s honestly not surprising that Mike Bost almost fought him after a screaming match developed between McCarthy and Gaetz. They must be completely sick of each other. And now they are headed for a candidate forum bound to last at least two hours tonight, and right back at it tomorrow for a process that could go upwards of 3 hours if it takes a lot of ballots to get a majority winner.”

“I just don’t see them going back to this process for full do-over. This strikes me as the last chance for the ambitious set of Speakership-seekers. If the nominee fails on the floor, and then the obvious alternative second place finisher also fails on the floor (and it’s not hard to imagine a 1-2 failure of Emmer and Hern in this manner), my bet is they don’t reopen the candidate forums and collect hopefuls. Instead, they switch over to electing a Speaker pro tempore for a termed period (perhaps the remainder of the session), and while that would likely be McHenry, I could also see them heading to Tom Cole.”

“Israel is willing to delay a ground invasion of Gaza for a few days to allow talks on releasing a large number of the hostages Hamas is holding there,” Axios reports.

“The Israelis told Egyptian mediators that if Hamas wants a some kind of hostage deal, it needs to release all the women and children it’s holding.”

Daily Beast: Freed Hamas hostage describes ‘spider’s web’ of tunnels beneath Gaza.

Hamas has released two more hostages for “humanitarian and health reasons,” the New York Times reports.

A diplomat briefed on the mediation talks confirmed the release, which comes three days after Hamas freed an Israeli-American mother and daughter.

“The Biden administration is preparing for the possibility that hundreds of thousands of American citizens will require evacuation from the Middle East if the bloodshed in Gaza cannot be contained,” the Washington Post reports.

“The specter of such an operation comes as Israeli forces, aided by U.S. weapons and military advisers, prepare for what is widely expected to be a perilous ground offensive against Hamas militants responsible for the stunning cross-border attack that has reignited hostilities.”

 “The U.S. has intelligence that Iranian-backed militia groups are planning to ramp up attacks against US forces in the Middle East, as Iran seeks to capitalize on the backlash in the region to U.S. support for Israel,” CNN reports.

“The Biden administration recently sent a Marine three-star general and several other U.S. military officers to Israel to help advise the Israeli military’s leadership in its operation in Gaza,” Axios reports.

“The move reflects the Biden administration’s deep involvement in the war in Gaza and how much visibility it has in Israel’s military planning.”

Playbook: “The Senate is getting its week started a little later than usual, due to the late return of a bipartisan codel to Israel and Saudi Arabia. With senators back in the building, we’ll get the first real temperature check on the White House’s $106 billion supplemental funding request.”

“We know Mitch McConnell is generally for it, the MAGA right is generally against it, but expect some surprises.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) came out against the idea of linking aid to Ukraine and Israel, challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) position.

“As President Joe Biden declared unwavering support for Israel in the days after Hamas’ terror attack in Israel, Ahmad Ramadan, a former Biden adviser now leading coalition efforts for the Michigan Democratic Party, called the state party chair to raise the alarm about what he was hearing,” NBC News reports.

“Michigan has one of the largest Muslim and Arab American populations in the country, and they say their support for Biden was instrumental to putting him over the top in the critical swing state in 2020. But now, Ramadan and other Democratic leaders in the state were hearing nothing but frustration with Biden — and threats to not vote for him again.”

“Attorney Jenna Ellis on Tuesday became the fourth defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to strike a deal with prosecutors,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“In exchange for her cooperation, Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings. The count stems from her testimony before a Georgia Senate subcommittee on Dec. 3, 2020. Along with co-defendants Rudy Giuliani and Ray Smith, Ellis ‘knowingly, willingly, and unlawfully’ made false statements about election fraud in Georgia.”

Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis took the unusual step of addressing the Georgia court, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

With tears streaming down her face, she said “if I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Trump in these post-election challenges… I look back on this experience with deep remorse.”

She said she relied on more senior attorneys “to provide me with true and reliable” info as she took on a more public role representing Trump.

She added: “In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the elections in several states, including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence.”

Donald Trump filed a big match of motions in the Jan. 6 case against him, launching a broad legal challenge to the indictment that accuses him of conspiring to subvert the 2020 election.

I would group the four motions into two categories: semi-plausible legal arguments and over-the-top playing to the crowd. To be clear, all of them are bombastic filings, but the first category is broadly what you might expect to see filed, whereas the second category is more uniquely Trumpian.

The first category includes:

The second category includes:

As a general matter, none of them are especially strong motions. (I should mention these are in addition to Trump’s pending motion to dismiss on the grounds of absolute presidential immunity.) But keep in mind that Trump doesn’t need all of these defenses to stick; he just needs a key one or two substantive arguments for appeals courts to hang their hats on.

Some of the initial reaction:

Politico: “The filings, combined with an earlier motion to dismiss the case citing his ‘immunity’ from prosecution for his conduct as president, represent Trump’s full strategy for preventing the case against him from ever reaching a jury.”

NYT: “With the flurry of motions filed late on Monday, Mr. Trump has now put on the table all of his attempts to have the election case dismissed before it goes to trial in March.”

WaPo: “In court filings that landed moments before a midnight deadline, lawyers for Trump claimed he was a victim of political persecution by the Biden administration. They called the charges against Trump legally defective and vague, and said the indictment should not link him to the violence of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, because he is not charged with inciting that riot.”

Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade: “Trump’s new motions to dismiss on First Amendment, selective prosecution, and double jeopardy grounds are all losers.”

Marcy Wheeler: Trump’s Motions to Dismiss Things That Aren’t The Charges Against Him

New York Times: “In a pair of filings this month, news organizations asked a federal judge in Washington to allow live television coverage…”

“A federal rule of criminal procedure stands in their way, and the Supreme Court has long been wary of cameras in courtrooms, notably its own. But one of the applications, from the corporate parent of NBC News, made an intriguing backup argument, one grounded in the text of a key roadblock to live television coverage: Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. If nothing else, the application said, Rule 53 allows the court to record the proceedings for posterity.”

New York Times: “Just four months ago, China’s defense minister, Gen. Li Shangfu, was at a forum for regional officials in Singapore, serving as the face of his country’s bold vision for reshaping Asia’s balance of power. He cast China as a force for stability and accused the United States of stirring trouble in the region, suggesting that its leaders should ‘mind your own business.’”

“Now, General Li has been dismissed after nearly two months out of public view — the latest example of China’s capricious rules of power under the strongman leader Xi Jinping…”

“General Li is the second Chinese minister to be purged this year without explanation and under a cloud of suspicion; the foreign minister, Qin Gang, was dismissed in July. The general’s removal also followed an abrupt shake-up in the leadership of China’s nuclear force, the highest-level upheaval in China’s military in recent years.”

Politico: “A new book explores [Senator Mitt Romney’s] pained realization that even a Trump antagonist like him might bear some blame for the current GOP mess.”

Donald Trump ranted on Truth Social about the new biography, Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins.

He called Romney “a total loser that only a mother could love” and claimed the book “is, much like him, boring, horrible, and totally predictable.”

Donald Trump seized on the temporary pause of his gag order to resume attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith.

“The last time the two New York tough guys were in the same room, one was the American president and the other was his loyal fixer,” the New York Times reports.

“Shortly after that encounter, one of the men, Michael D. Cohen, turned on the other, his former boss, Donald Trump. In the five years since, Mr. Cohen has gone to prison and testified against Mr. Trump before Congress and a grand jury. Mr. Trump, for his part, has been impeached twice, voted out of office and indicted four times.”

“Their reunion is now set for a stage that has become familiar to them both: a New York courtroom, where Mr. Cohen will take the stand as soon as Tuesday as a star witness against Mr. Trump in a civil fraud trial.”

Donald Trump is “very likely” to appear in court as soon as Tuesday for testimony by his ex-attorney-turned nemesis Michael Cohen in his civil fraud trial, The Messenger reports.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s nearly 400-page report to state Attorney General Chris Carr about the Coffey County voting machine caper.

David French: “In rightly ascribing importance to the Harvards of the world, we can forget that other schools in other contexts also exercise immense influence, and their virtues and flaws can sometimes be more consequential than anything that happens in the Ivy League.”

“In fact, I’d argue that the moral collapse at Liberty University in Virginia may well be the most consequential education scandal in the United States, not simply because the details themselves are shocking and appalling, but because Liberty’s misconduct both symbolizes and contributes to the crisis engulfing Christian America. It embodies a cultural and political approach that turns Christian theology on its head.”

Rolling Stone: “Donald Trump wanted to pull the United States out of NATO during his first term, but was repeatedly talked out of it by senior administration officials.”

“For a possible second term in the White House, the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner is already discussing how he could actually get it done, if his demands aren’t met by NATO. He and his policy-wonk allies are also gaming out how he could dramatically wind down American involvement to merely a ‘standby’ position in NATO, in Trump’s own words.”

“Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday submitted a bill approving Sweden’s NATO membership bid to parliament for ratification, a move welcomed by Stockholm as it clears the way for it to join the Western defense alliance,” Reuters reports.

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

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