Cup of Joe – November 8, 2023

Punchbowl News: “We scooped that the House GOP leadership had decided they actually wouldn’t move a funding bill this week. Instead, they’ll start considering how to avert a shutdown when next week begins. Speaker Mike Johnson and his team have told their leadership colleagues he wants to talk more about the GOP’s strategy this week.”

“This is an incredibly risky play for all the reasons we just laid out above. Leaving Congress just one work week to figure out how to fund the government beyond Nov. 17 raises the real possibility of a shutdown. This strategy also increases the likelihood that the Senate, sensing inaction, will move to fill the void by passing its own CR.”

“To be honest, nearly everyone we’ve spoken to in leadership is confused about this plan.”

Punchbowl News: “Ten days from now, the federal government will be on the brink of shutting down.”

“Here’s where things stand: Speaker Mike Johnson, in his second full week leading the House, is heading to the Capitol basement this morning to discuss several options to avert a shutdown come Nov. 17.”

“Meanwhile, across the Capitol, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Senate is setting the stage to jam the House with a massive omnibus-like bill around the holidays. This is exactly what House Republicans have said they want to avoid. Unfortunately for them, the Senate GOP doesn’t really care.”

NBC News: House Republicans search for a strategy to avert a shutdown.

“House Democrats were already attacking swing-district Republicans over conservative funding bills before Kevin McCarthy lost the speakership. Speaker Mike Johnson is giving them even more fodder,” Politico reports.

“The Louisiana Republican is staking his legislative reputation on churning through the full stack of a dozen annual funding bills, many of them including conservative riders like a national ban on mail-order abortion pills. By the end of Johnson’s first full week as speaker, House Republicans had passed three of the 12 spending measures, and he’s hoping to clear another handful before the Nov. 17 government shutdown deadline.”

President Biden in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday raised the possibility of a “tactical pause” in the fighting in Gaza, Axios reports.

“Israel’s military said on Monday that its troops had encircled Gaza City, effectively splitting the Gaza Strip in half as the U.S. secretary of state finished sweeping through the Middle East in another intense push by the Biden administration to prevent a wider regional war,” the New York Times reports.

New York Times: “Biden’s influence over how his allies prosecute those wars seems far more constrained than expected, given his central role as the supplier of arms and intelligence.”

“But because the United States is so tied to both struggles, as Israel’s most powerful ally and Ukraine’s best hope of remaining a free and independent nation, the president’s legacy is tied to how those countries act, and how the wars end.”

State Department staffers offered a blistering critique of the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war in a dissent memo obtained by Politico, arguing that, among other things, the U.S. should be willing to publicly criticize the Israelis.

Donald Trump called his New York fraud trial a “scam” on Monday after testifying.

Said Trump: “I don’t have to be here, for the most part… It’s a scam. And this is a case that should have never been brought, and it’s a case that now should be dismissed.”

Aaron Blake: 3 early takeaways from Trump’s testimony.

“Donald Trump is at risk of losing the New York real estate empire that the rest of his career was built on,” Axios reports.

“Forcibly dismantling Trump’s company is so unusual that no one is quite certain how it would play out.”

Key takeaway: “If the business certificates were canceled, the relevant assets — which include Trump Tower, Trump Park Avenue, 40 Wall Street, and Trump National Golf Course Hudson Valley — would be put under the control of a court-appointed receiver, who operates much like an executor of an estate.”

“The receiver would continue to manage the properties, but also could be allowed by the court to sell some — particularly if cash was needed to pay off legal penalties or creditors.”

“Donald Trump forgot what years he served as president while on the stand in his New York fraud trial Monday,” the Daily Beast reports.

“He claimed at one point that he did not pay attention to his company’s financial statements in 2021 due to his busy schedule as commander-in-chief—despite the fact that he left office in January.”

Said Trump: “I was so busy in the White House, focusing on Russia and China and keeping our country safe.”

“Donald Trump portrayed himself as the victim of ‘election interference’ and a ‘political witch hunt.’ He talked about crime in the streets of New York. And he decried the ‘weaponization’ of a judicial system that he alleges, without evidence, is unfairly targeting him,” the Washington Post reports.

“But the former president wasn’t speaking at a campaign rally in Iowa or New Hampshire — his typical venue for airing grievances, baseless claims and other invective. Instead, he appeared Monday inside a courtroom here in the city where he has spent most of his adult life. New York Attorney General Letitia James was alleging that he and his company falsely inflated property values to gain lending advantages, and Trump was on the witness stand.”

“Federal prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to reject a barrage of motions filed last month by former President Donald Trump that sought to toss out the indictment charging him with plotting to overturn the 2020 election and said his claims were full of ‘distortions and misrepresentations,’” the New York Times reports.

“Special counsel prosecutors said Monday they plan to show at trial that Donald Trump lied repeatedly about the results of the 2020 election as part of a conspiracy to subvert the legitimate results. But they also said they don’t need to prove whether Trump believed he lost the race,” the Washington Post reports.

“Legal experts have debated the importance of Trump’s state of mind in his federal election subversion case in D.C., with some arguing that to win a conviction the government must pin down the true beliefs of a politician who amassed a long record of making false or misleading claims while president. The Justice Department weighed in on the debate for the first time, saying that what they need to prove is not that Trump believed the ‘Big Lie’ of the election being stolen but that he knowingly spread associated lies in a criminal scheme to stay in power.”

“Vladimir Putin has decided to run in the March presidential election, a move that will keep him in power until least 2030, as the Kremlin chief feels he must steer Russia through the most perilous period in decades,” Reuters reports.

“After defusing an armed mutiny by the leader of the Wagner mercenary group in June, Putin has moved to shore up support among his core base in the security forces, the armed forces and with regional voters outside Moscow, while Wagner has been brought firmly to heel.”

“We are not ready to give our freedom to this fucking terrorist Putin.”— Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, on Meet the Press, explaining why they must keep fighting.

“New York City police officers were sent to the home of Mayor Eric Adams’ chief fundraiser — at the request of an internal affairs official — just hours before it was raided by the FBI in a campaign-finance corruption probe tied to Turkey’s government,” The Messenger reports.

“The NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau official called the 77th Precinct headquarters in Brooklyn around 7 p.m. Wednesday and requested a ‘wellness check’ at the home of Brianna Suggs, 25.”

New York Times: Did fake donors give the mayor real money?

“After getting caught on tape spewing racist hate speech, there really was only one move left to make for former Democratic City Councilwoman Nury Martinez — find a home in Arizona and reputedly become a Republican,” Los Angeles Magazine reports.

“Not that long ago, Martinez, 50, was a rising star in local politics, the first Latina to become Council president. But, of course, she resigned in disgrace in 2022, after she and three other city leaders were secretly tape-recorded during a closed-door City Hall session bashing L.A. District Attorney George Gascón (‘Fuck that guy — he’s with the Blacks’) and hurling bigoted slurs at former Council colleague Mike Bonin’s adopted African American son (calling him a ‘changuito,’ Spanish for ‘little monkey’).”

“Now, according to several sources with knowledge of the ongoing investigation into the secret City Hall taping, Martinez has a new mailing address. She and her husband, Gerry Guzman (onetime manager for Alex Villanueva’s failed reelection campaign as L.A. County sheriff), have set up camp in Arizona. The couple’s new residence isn’t the only thing that’s changed, though — so, apparently, have their politics.”

Daily Beast: “With McCarthy out of power—and Greene largely ostracized from her former friends in the House Freedom Caucus, as well as the GOP rank and file who already disliked her—there aren’t many House Republicans standing with the conservative Facebook shock jock-turned-congresswoman.”

“Greene’s diminished status in the GOP conference was on full display last week as she introduced a resolution to chastise Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) for her pro-Palestinian rhetoric, and lost the vote badly.”

After days of not directly answering the question, Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) spokesman finally told Playbook that the Louisiana lawmaker does have a personal bank account. But he explained the account is exempt from House disclosure rules because it is not interest-bearing.

 “House Republicans are prepared to enter the last stage of their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, with committee chairmen focusing on a remaining list of high-profile interviews and starting to strategize over a final report that will likely include criminal referrals and serve as their bedrock for potential impeachment articles,” CNN reports.

“But even as their endgame comes into focus, it’s unclear how long the effort will take or whether House Republicans leading the effort will be able to convince enough of their GOP colleagues that Biden himself committed any high crimes or misdemeanors – a key hurdle that they have yet to overcome.”

 “The Biden administration will announce a $16.4 billion investment for rail projects along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor on Monday as part of the overall investments in infrastructure by President Biden, a longtime Amtrak user,” The Hill reports.

“One of the most revealing debates in the Republican Party is one that has disappeared from the campaign trail: the fight over repealing Obamacare,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“This presidential election marks the first in more than a decade in which no GOP candidates are pledging to eviscerate the landmark Affordable Care Act, ending a standoff between the parties over whether the government is responsible for providing access to healthcare.”

“When it comes to medical coverage, at least, the debate is largely settled: Americans want their government to help, rather than leaving it to insurers and market forces to try to provide the best coverage for the most people.”

“The prosecutor overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation is testifying Tuesday, marking the first time a special counsel will appear before Congress in the middle of a probe,” the AP reports.

“It comes as House Republicans are aiming to ramp up their impeachment inquiry into the president and his family after weeks of stalemate.”

“Senators are taking fresh aim at legacy and donor preferences for admission to college, as advantages given to certain students and groups come under increasing scrutiny following a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down the use of race in college admissions,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A bill introduced Tuesday by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA)—called the MERIT Act—would try to end legacy admissions at colleges and universities.”

A trio of House Republicans introduced resolutions to censure Palestinian American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over her criticism of Israel, Axios reports.

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