Cup of Joe – October 27, 2023

“House Republicans’ three-week-long nightmare is over. But for new Speaker Mike Johnson, the nightmare is just beginning,” Politico reports.

“While it was all smiles and standing ovations from his GOP colleagues yesterday, the new leader is about to run smack into the tough reality that he just got promoted to the worst job in Washington.”

“That includes the pleasure of dealing with the egos, rivalries and demands of a bitterly divided GOP Conference … of negotiating with Democrats eager to flip the House and see him fall flat on his face … and let’s not forget about the public scrutiny that’s already ratcheting up on a man who has probably received more attention in the past 48 hours than he has in his entire career.”

Donald Trump gave the new Speaker of the House a new nickname Democrats will likely use as well: “MAGA Mike Johnson.”

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) seemingly came out of nowhere to become Speaker of the House and second-in-line to the presidency.

But thanks to previous stints as a talk radio host and conservative activist, his beliefs are relatively easy to uncover.

Here are a few things we’re learning:

He’s been a trusted member of Donald Trump’s inner circle for years.

He’s been good friends with Justice Amy Coney Barrett since 1988.

He married his wife, Kelly, in 1999 in a “covenant marriage” which makes it very hard to get a divorce.

He and his wife have a podcast called “Truth be Told.”

He defended anti-sodomy laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court.

He opposed giving domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.

He called homosexuality “inherently unnatural,” suggesting same-sex marriage would lead to pedophilia and bestiality.

He blamed post-Katrina looting on liberalism and legalized gambling.

He told the New Yorker he’s a Constitutional “textualist.”

He doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state.

He believes we live in a “biblical republic” and not a democracy.

He supports ending American military aid to Ukraine.

He pledged to serve just three terms in Congress but is now in his fourth.

In a podcast recorded last month, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) indicated he does not believe in the separation of church and state, ABC News reports.

He referred to the “so-called separation of church and state” and said “the founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around.”

Said Johnson: “If anybody tries to convince you that your biblical beliefs or your religious viewpoint needs to separated from public affairs, you should politely remind them to review their history and you should not back down.”

Playbook: “Johnson is about to become for Democrats what Nancy Pelosi was for Republicans: a base-motivating, money-raising boogeyman who embodies everything they dislike most about the other party.”

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) was the lawyer for Ark Encounter, the creation museum in Kentucky, and sought public tax credits to build the project in 2014.

“The United States economy surged in the third quarter as a strong job market and falling inflation gave consumers the confidence to spend freely on goods and services,” the New York Times reports.

“Gross domestic product, the primary measure of economic output, grew at a 4.9 percent annualized rate from July through September, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. It was the strongest showing since late 2021, defying predictions of a slowdown prompted by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases.”

“The acceleration was made possible in part by slowing inflation, which lifted purchasing power even as wage growth weakened, and a job market that has shown renewed vigor over the past three months.”

“In a year when the US economy exceeded almost everybody’s expectations, the underlying federal deficit roughly doubled, spotlighting a dire fiscal trajectory likely to only worsen the partisan budget battles in Washington,” Bloomberg reports.

“Senate Democratic leaders are crafting a new proposal that could help overcome Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade of military promotions,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Democrats are preparing to send a resolution to the Rules Committee that would allow most of the 300-plus promotions Tuberville is blocking to be considered on the floor en bloc. This would dramatically reduce the number of votes the Senate would need to take to approve the long-stalled promotions. It would be in effect for a little over a year.”

“The terms of the private loan were as generous as they were clear: With no money down, Justice Clarence Thomas could borrow more than a quarter of a million dollars from a wealthy friend to buy a 40-foot luxury motor coach, making annual interest-only payments for five years. Only then would the principal come due,” the New York Times reports.

“But despite the favorable nature of the 1999 loan and a lengthy extension to make good on his obligations, Justice Thomas failed to repay a ‘significant portion’ — or perhaps any — of the $267,230 principal, according to a new report by Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee. Nearly nine years later, after Justice Thomas had made an unclear number of the interest payments, the outstanding debt was forgiven, an outcome with ethical and potential tax consequences for the justice.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has been criminally charged with one misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm for the September 30th incident in the Cannon Office Building, NBC News reports.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

He has been ordered to appear in DC Superior Court tomorrow morning at 9:30am for his arraignment.

Special Counsel Jack Smith asked for the reinstatement of a gag order against Donald Trump in the federal 2020 election case — saying Trump’s social media post last night about Mark Meadows testifying under immunity order was inappropriate.

He added that Trump is an active danger and not just to the trial but to the physical safety of witnesses.

“The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday urged the judge overseeing former President Trump’s federal 2020 election criminal case in D.C. to reevaluate her gag order, arguing it is unconstitutionally overly broad and vague,” The Hill reports.

Special counsel Jack Smith said in court filing tonight that if Donald Trump tries to mount an “advice of counsel” defense to his federal charges, it may be complicated by the fact that three of his lawyer co-defendants just pleaded guilty in Georgia.

“Fulton County prosecutors have discussed potential plea deals with at least six additional co-defendants charged alongside Donald Trump for attempting to subvert the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.

“The strategy by District Attorney Fani Willis’ office is clear: get as many co-defendants as possible to flip on the former president, leaving Trump and perhaps a few close allies on the hot seat.”

Ten House members, including nine Democrats and one Republican, opposed a resolution that declared support for Israel — the first measure to pass under the new leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

“A coalition of 41 states and the District of Columbia are filing lawsuits alleging that Meta Platforms has intentionally built its products with addictive features that harm young users of its Facebook and Instagram services,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Some New York Republicans say they’re going to push ahead with a formal resolution to expel embattled Rep. George Santos, Republican of New York, now that the House is open after its three-week speaker stalemate,” CBS News reports.

Playbook: “While the threshold for expulsion is high (you need two-thirds of Congress to agree to it), even allowing such a vote will put Republicans in an awkward position of either voting to expel him or potentially imperiling their governing majority by saving Santos — which will, of course, open them up to attacks from Democrats come 2024.”

“A Colorado judge has rejected another attempt by former President Donald Trump to throw out a lawsuit seeking to block him from the 2024 presidential ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s ‘insurrectionist ban,’” CNN reports.

“The ruling Wednesday from Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace clears the way for an unprecedented trial to begin next week, to determine if Trump is disqualified from returning to the White House because of his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.”

“This is the fifth unsuccessful bid by Trump to throw out the Colorado case, which is one of several pending suits trying to derail his candidacy based on the 14th Amendment.”

The Economist: “So a politician in the evening of his career, with a vast family, a rich spiritual life and great wealth to fall back upon, summoned the nerve to declare what his peers muttered privately: that a man who was obviously unfit to be president was, in fact, unfit to be president. Does the courage of Mitt Romney in standing up to Donald Trump really say something wonderful about Mr Romney, or just something dismal about American democracy?”

“The grim answer is that it does say something good about Mr Romney precisely because it illuminates how debased the leadership of the Republican Party has become. Only against the shadow of dire compromise and cowardice could Mr Romney’s sense and decency gleam so brightly.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Wednesday offered “prayers” for the people of Lewiston, Maine, following a deadly mass shooting that has left at least 16 people dead and dozens others injured, The Messenger reports.

Said Boebert: “Sending prayers to Lewistown, Maine tonight. Know that the entire country is praying for you.”

Tucker Carlson’s new media company has officially signed its first advertising deal, CNBC reports.

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

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