Cup of Joe – November 18, 2023

“House lawmakers in both parties who voted against expelling Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from Congress earlier this month now say they will support removing him in the wake of a damning House Ethics Committee report,” Axios reports.

“The House is expected to vote on expulsion shortly after they return from their Thanksgiving recess — meaning the embattled Long Islander’s days in Congress are likely numbered.”

Predicted one House Republican: “He’s gone.”

The 55-page ethics report looking into allegations against Rep. George Santos (R-NY) shows that he spent campaign funds “on Botox treatments and lavish Atlantic City trips with his husband,” Politico reports.

But there are other more egregious charges:

  • $50,000 of donor money solicited for political purposes that was transferred to Santos’ personal account, where some was used for purchases at Sephora, Hermes and OnlyFans, the platform largely used by creators of adult erotic content.
  • $20,000 of Santos’ 2022 campaign funds were moved to his personal business’ bank account, where some was used to pay for his rent, $6,000 worth of purchases from Ferragamo stores and a withdrawal from a casino.

“Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) thought the House Ethics Committee’s report on Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is ‘troubling’ and urged lawmakers ‘to consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further,’ Punchbowl News reports.

“This will be viewed by lawmakers as a green light on any upcoming vote to expel Santos.”

Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), chair of the House Ethics Committee, plans to introduce a privileged resolution today calling for Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) expulsion from Congress, Punchbowl News reports.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), ranking member on Ethics, said she’ll support Santos’ expulsion now that the secretive committee’s probe is finished.

Meanwhile, Santos announced a press conference on the Capitol steps for November 30 at 8 a.m. ET.

“Why would we want to expel a guy when we’ve got a three-seat, four-seat majority. What are we doing? — Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), quoted by Axios, on Rep. George Santos (R-NY).

“President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a temporary spending bill a day before a potential government shutdown, pushing a fight with congressional Republicans over the federal budget into the new year, as wartime aid for Ukraine and Israel remains stalled,” the AP reports.

Time: “Congress just averted a shutdown by agreeing to keep federal spending at current levels for a few more weeks. But look under the hood of that agreement and you’ll find lots of money was moved around within agencies in ways that affect how they operate. One potential ripple effect: the Department of Justice may find itself paring back its efforts to hold hundreds of Jan. 6 insurrectionists accountable for their actions.”

“The spending bill ‘includes a 12% cut in funding for federal prosecutors. That number was also almost one-fifth lower than what the DOJ said it needed. Soon after Jan. 6 in 2021, when the agency said it was preparing to handle an ‘increasing number of cases and defendants’ related to domestic terrorism, a Democratic-controlled Congress upped their funding for federal prosecutors to $2.8 billion. Last year, that fell to $2.6 billion. And now, it looks like House Republicans managed to carve that down to $2.3 billion over the next year, a reduction likely to mean hundreds of fewer lawyers and other workers available to take on the department’s caseload.”

“The era of price hikes for consumer goods is waning,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“For over a year, shoppers have pulled back on buying a range of discretionary items from cargo pants to patio furniture as prices for essential purchases such as food have gone up. Now, some retailers say inflation has cooled in many categories, which could further pressure sales growth.”

“Members of the United Automobile Workers union have given their backing to new contracts with the three big U.S. automakers, agreements that deliver hefty wage increases and other gains that had eluded the union for more than 20 years,” the New York Times reports.

The Supreme Court refused on Thursday to revive a Florida law that banned children from “adult live performances” such as drag shows, the New York Times reports.

“Less than 24 hours after Elon Musk endorsed an antisemitic post on X as ‘the actual truth’ of what Jewish people were doing, IBM paused its advertising on the social media platform as X’s chief executive, Linda Yaccarino, and others at the company scrambled on Thursday to contain the fallout,” the New York Times reports.

With this simple docket entry, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon all but assured that the trial of Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case will not happen until after the 2024 election:

The docket entry is not a clarion call by any means. It’s technical and legalistic. A perfect way to bury the reality of acceding to Trump’s delay strategy. But the consensus among CIPA experts and legal observers is that this is best evidence yet that Cannon is slow-rolling the case, to Trump’s benefit.

What happened? A couple of days ago, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked Cannon to set a key deadline in December for Trump to provide notice of which classified materials he wants to use at trial. Without waiting for Trump to respond, Cannon nixed the idea. Cannon’s docket entry says she won’t even consider setting this and other important deadlines until a hearing on March 1, 2024. That’s not a feasible schedule for a May 2024 trial date.

The only slight caveat I would add here is that it’s conceivable that while the current May 2024 trial date is out the window, something could be scheduled later in 2024, before the election. But that would be very difficult practically with this latest move by Cannon, even if she were competent and well-intentioned, both of which are highly in doubt at this point.

The reactions were scorching:

Harry Litman: “Judge Cannon’s paperless order denying without explanation DOJ’s uber-reasonable request to set a CIPA section 5 hearing comes mighty close to guaranteeing Trump what he wants: a trial post Nov 2024.”

Brandon Van Grack: “Court won’t even consider scheduling a Sec. 5 hearing until March. Clear indication May trial date wont happen. … Refusal to schedule hearing shows the Court is not going to move with urgency.”

Hugo Lowell: “In short: Trump classified docs case is almost certainly not going to trial in May — in fact, we are probably now several months behind that schedule”

Andrew Weissmann: “Judge Cannon’s bias is showing over and over again. Smith has to be weighing whether, when, and how to seek her reversal by the Ct of Appeals and her removal.”

I expect many of you will now expect Smith to follow through as Weissmann suggests above: get Cannon recused and/or appeal her refusal to keep the trial on track. I’m not an expert in CIPA or criminal or appellate procedure, but it sure looks like Cannon has done this in a way that will make appealing it virtually impossible at this stage. In short, we may be stuck with Cannon and these awful, compromised decisions.

“Republican senators are laying the groundwork to vote before Christmas on a Democratic-drafted resolution to circumvent the blockade that Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R) has placed in front of more than 400 military nominees,” The Hill reports.

A group of bipartisan senators are hoping to have a deal on a border security-Ukraine compromise by Thanksgiving and they gained momentum on Wednesday, the Washington Post reports.

On the same day that an FBI team searched the home of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ (D) key fundraiser, other agents were raiding two other homes belonging to people with ties to the embattled mayor, the New York Times reports.

Politico: “A pro-Palestinian protest at Democratic Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., that turned violent is sending a jolt through political circles in Chicago.”

A new Quinnipiac poll finds 54% of voters say their sympathies lie more with the Israelis in the aftermath of the Hamas attack, while 24% say their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians.

This compares to an October poll, when 61% said the Israelis and 13% said the Palestinians.

Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of U.S. Central Command, is expected to visit Israel on Friday and meet with senior Israel defense and military officials to discuss the war in Gaza and the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border, Axios reports.

50-year-old professor at Moorpark College was arrested on a charge of involuntary manslaughter and held on a $1 million bail in the death of a 69-year-old Jewish protestor after a Nov. 5 altercation.

“The man who broke into the home of Nancy Pelosi last year and bludgeoned her husband was convicted Thursday on federal charges of trying to kidnap the then-House speaker and assaulting one of her family members because of her work in Congress,” the Washington Post reports.

Tom Nichols: “Trump, whether from intention or stupidity or fear, has identified himself as a fascist under almost any reasonable definition of the word. But although he leads the angry and resentful GOP, he has not created a coherent, disciplined, and effective movement. (Consider his party’s entropic behavior in Congress.) He is also constrained by circumstance: The country is not in disarray, or at war, or in an economic collapse. Although some of Trump’s most ardent voters support his blood-and-soil rhetoric, millions of others have no connection to that agenda. Some are unaware; others are in denial. And many of those voters are receptive to his message only because they have been bludgeoned by right-wing propaganda into irrationality and panic. Even many officials in the current GOP, that supine and useless husk of an institution, do not share Trump’s ambitions.”

“I have long argued for confronting Trump’s voters with his offenses against our government and our Constitution. The contest between an aspiring fascist and a coalition of prodemocracy forces is even clearer now. But deploy the word fascist with care; many of our fellow Americans, despite their morally abysmal choice to support Trump, are not fascists.”

“As for Trump, he has abandoned any democratic pretenses, and lost any benefit of the doubt about who and what he is.”

Semafor: “Privately, Trump aides admit that having their candidate’s name in the same sentence as Hitler and Mussolini this week isn’t a positive.”

“But they also see some upside as well: More media attention amplifies his attacks — one Trump advisor said seeing ‘vermin’ next to Democrats in cable news chyrons was an ‘effective message’ — and provides an opportunity to rally supporters by accusing the press of playing up the outrage.”

“Donald Trump went on a tirade against the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial on Thursday, just hours after an appeals court paused a gag order against him that limited what he could say about court staff,” the HuffPost reports.

“Trump had violated the order twice, resulting in $15,000 in fines and warnings from Engoron that any further violations would result in harsh penalties.”

In a taped interview for Jonathan Karl’s book, Tired of Winning, Donald Trump said that if he had been allowed to go to the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, he would have been “very well received” by those trying to thwart the democratic process, the Daily Beast reports.

Said Trump: “I wanted to go back. I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn’t like that idea too much. And I could’ve done that. And you know what? I would have been very well received.”

Politico: “The latest blow came this week, when Tim Scott, the second of two candidates with a future-focused, relentlessly positive message and a smiling disposition, dropped out of the GOP presidential primary. He was preceded to the exits by his fellow happy warrior Mike Pence. Both capitulated to an electorate more interested in candidates eager to violate Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment — thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican — shredding each other to make a point.”

“The last of their kind amid a field of slash-and-burn culture warriors and angr brawlers — candidates willing to call their political enemies ‘scum’ and ‘vermin’ — Pence and Scott had bet that there was a silent majority of Republican primary voters who wanted a return to an optimistic, whistle-while-you-work-the-base standard bearer.”

“Special counsel prosecutors are using a Los Angeles grand jury to seek documents and possible testimony from multiple witnesses as part of the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings,“ CNN reports.

“James Biden, President Joe Biden’s brother and a one-time business associate of Hunter, is among the individuals who have received a subpoena in recent weeks.”

Rolling Stone: “The Daily Wire has descended into unrestrained chaos as an ongoing spat between its founder, Ben Shapiro, and one of the right-wing outlet’s biggest names, Candace Owens.”

“The pair’s disagreements over the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas have now spilled into a public fight on social media.”

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

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