Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Good Morning!!

Georg Scholz

Georg Scholz, German artist

There’s quite a mixed bag of news this morning. I’ll begin with the January 6 investigation updates, because that’s my personal obsession. Here’s the latest.

ABC News: Jan. 6 committee deepens probe into Trump Cabinet: Sources.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is working to secure testimony from a growing number of officials in former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

Trump’s former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who reportedly discussed the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recently sat with committee investigators for a transcribed interview, the sources said.

ABC News previously reported that Pompeo is expected to speak with the committee in the coming days, though his interview is not officially scheduled.

Among the officials actively negotiating with the committee are the former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and the former acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, sources familiar with the negotiations said.

Wolf would also be able to speak to Trump’s desire to order the federal government to seize voting machines.

The engagement shows that even after the committee’s round of dramatic public hearings, it continues to pursue additional evidence about what the administration’s most senior officials knew about Trump’s actions surrounding Jan. 6.

CBS News: Mick Mulvaney will testify Thursday before House Jan. 6 committee.

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol….

Mulvaney told CBS News that he believes Cassidy Hutchinson and other top former Trump officials who have testified about him before the panel….

After the Capitol attack, Mulvaney told CNBC he couldn’t “stay here, not after yesterday.”

“You can’t look at that yesterday and say I want to be a part of that in any way shape or form,” he told CNBC at the time.

Politico: Feds get new warrant to search contents of pro-Trump lawyer’s phone.

The Justice Department revealed on Wednesday that it had obtained a new search warrant to access the contents of attorney John Eastman’s phone, which it seized from the pro-Trump lawyer last month before transporting it to a lab in Virginia.


Landscape with bog canal, Paula Mondersohn Becker

The development, filed in court via Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom, came in response to a legal effort by Eastman to block investigators from “rummaging” through his files. The Justice Department had indicated that it would obtain a warrant that would limit investigators’ access to “evidence of specific federal crimes or specific types of material.”

Windom indicated in the filing that the new warrant — dated July 12 — included a “filter protocol” to prevent investigators from accessing privileged material, and that the details of that process had been communicated to Eastman’s attorneys.

Eastman is a central figure in the investigations of then-President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. He helped lead a team of lawyers that developed a fringe strategy to pressure Republican-run state legislatures to adopt “alternate” slates of pro-Trump electors that could be used to overturn Trump’s defeat. A federal judge in March determined that Eastman and Trump likely entered into a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election, in part by using the false electors to try to reverse the outcome on Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress was required to count electoral votes and certify the election results.

Windom’s filing is a milestone of sorts because, while his identity has been known in media reports for months, before Wednesday the Justice Department never confirmed his involvement in the Jan. 6-related investigation. The filing also indicates that Windom is now working as an assistant U.S. attorney as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.

At The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Katie Benner have a long explainer article on the fake electors scam: The Fake Electors Scheme, Explained. I haven’t read it yet, but both Feuer and Benner are excellent investigative reporters.

Climate Change Bill?

Supposedly, Joe Manchin has made a deal with Chuck Shumer to support a big climate change bill. Politico: ‘Holy s–t’: Surprise Senate deal sets stage for record climate change package.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin salvaged a deal on Wednesday for a bill that includes the biggest climate spending package in U.S. history, devoting hundreds of billions of dollars to clean energy technologies.

Tiger, by Franz Marc

Tiger, by Franz Marc

Their agreement, which came after Manchin had rejected climate and energy measures two weeks ago under the Democrats’ reconciliation package, is aimed at slashing carbon emissions an estimated 40 percent from 2005 levels economy-wide by 2030. But italso comes with plans to ease rules that the West Virginia senator has said are constricting fossil fuel production and slowing needed upgrades to the power grid.

“Holy shit,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs with the League of Conservation Voters. “This deal is coming not a moment too soon.”

Lawmakers and climate advocates — who had been hammering Manchin in recent days for rejecting the climate measures because of inflation concerns — were ecstatic at the surprise announcement.

“There’s been a ton of work done over the last two weeks to make the case to Sen. Manchin that this package is not inflationary and address his concerns in a serious way,” said Jason Walsh, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups. “And we’re just thrilled that we’re at this moment,” he added.

The Washington Post: Manchin says he has reached deal with Schumer on economy, climate bill.

The new agreement, brokered between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), opens the door for party lawmakers to try to advance the measure next week. It caps off months of fierce debate, delay and acrimony, a level of infighting that some Democrats saw as detrimental to their political fate ahead of this fall’s critical elections.

Under the deal, Schumer secured Manchin’s support for roughly $433 billion in new spending, most of which is focused on climate change and clean energy production. It is the largest such investment in U.S. history, and a marked departure from Manchin’s position only days earlier. The Democrats coupled the spending with provisions that aim to lower health-care costs for Americans, chiefly by allowing Medicare to begin negotiating the price of select prescription drugs on behalf of seniors.

The Medicare change would huge if it stays in the bill.


Marianne von Werefkin, The Storm

To pay for the package, Manchin and Schumer also settled on a series of changes to tax law that would raise $739 billion over the next decade — enough to offset the cost of the bill while securing more than $300 billion for cutting the deficit, a priority for Manchin. Democrats sourced the funds from proposals including a new minimum tax on corporations and fresh investments in the Internal Revenue Service that will help it pursue tax cheats.

Taken together, the package represents more than some Democrats once thought they might win from Manchin, who repeatedly has raised fiscal concerns with his own party’s ambitions. Only two weeks ago, the moderate from West Virginia, a coal-heavy state, signaled his opposition to new climate investments out of a fear that spending increases — funded in part by tax hikes — could harm the economy and worsen inflation.

“This is the most significant action we’ve taken on climate, that we will take on climate and clean energy, ever,” said Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), who led Democrats on a plan that would have punished polluters in the electricity sector before Manchin blocked it.

Prisoner Exchange with Russia?

CNN Exclusive: Biden administration offers convicted Russian arms dealer in exchange for Griner, Whelan.

After months of internal debate, the Biden administration has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence, as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, according to people briefed on the matter.

These sources told CNN that the plan to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner received the backing of President Joe Biden after being under discussion since earlier this year. Biden’s support for the swap overrides opposition from the Department of Justice, which is generally against prisoner trades.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that “so far, there is no agreement on this issue.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the US presented a “substantial proposal” to Moscow “weeks ago” for Whelan and Griner, who are classified as wrongfully detained.

A-Large-Light-Shop-Window, August Macke

A Large Light Shop Window, August Macke

Speaking at a press conference at the State Department, Blinken said Biden was “directly involved” and signed off on the proposal. Although Blinken did not directly confirm Bout was part of the deal, saying he “can’t and won’t get into any of the details of what we proposed to the Russians over the course of so many weeks now,” he said “in terms of the President, of course he was not only directly involved, he signs off on any proposal that we make, and certainly when it comes to Americans who are being arbitrarily detained abroad, including in this specific case.”

The top US diplomat said he intended to discuss the matter on an expected call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week — his first conversation with his counterpart since the war in Ukraine began — telling reporters, “my hope would be that in speaking to Foreign Minister Lavrov, I can advance the efforts to bring them home.”

I sure hope they can work something out.

Senate Races

Good news out of Wisconsin–it looks like Ron Johnson could be in trouble. Politico: Mandela Barnes gets open path to take on Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

Democrats hoping to flip Wisconsin’s Senate seat got a boost Wednesday when one of the party’s leading candidates bowed out and endorsed a rival, virtually clearing the field ahead of an expensive, hotly contested general election.

Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry withdrew from the Democratic Senate primary Wednesday afternoon and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

His departure from the race leaves a nearly open path for Barnes to capture the nomination in the Aug. 9 primary. Lasry, who loaned his campaign more than $12 million, has been Barnes’ top opponent for months.

Democrats welcomed the bombshell news, arguing that it will give Barnes a head start against Johnson in one of the most pivotal Senate races in the country and aid his fundraising operation. Johnson has $3.6 million in the bank as of the latest campaign finance reports, compared to Barnes’ $1.5 million.

Wisconsin is the last big question mark left for Senate Democrats in terms of setting their candidate lineup, and Barnes’ likely win means the party has its candidate roster all-but set for the general election.

“I don’t think there’s any question it helps,” said Joe Zepecki, a Wisconsin-based Democratic strategist. “Any time there’s a contested primary, you figure it’s going to take a couple days to put everybody back together. Because of how late our primary is, the faster you can get that done, the better. The other thing that I think is really important is this sends a signal to donors that they can now coalesce as well.”

Read more at the link.

The Economy

The Washington Post: U.S. economy shrinks again in second quarter, reviving recession fears.

The U.S. economy shrank again for a second straight quarter, at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, raising concerns the country may be heading into recession and compounding the Biden administration’s political challenges as it grapples with decades-high inflation.


Gabriele Munter, Sunset over Staffelsee

The U.S. economy shrank again for a second straight quarter, at an annual rate of 0.9 percent, raising concerns the country may be heading into recession and compounding the Biden administration’s political challenges as it grapples with decades-high inflation.

The second quarter slowdown reflected shifting consumer and business behaviors. Retailers bought fewer items, including cars, as consumers shifted their spending away from goods to services such as restaurants and hotels. Declines in home construction and government spending also contributed to the negative reading.

The sour GDP report reflects ongoing problems with inflation, which have been at 40-year highs for several months, as well as weakening home sales and challenges for some corporate sectors, including tech and finance. Even the-red hot labor market is beginning to show cracks. Broader worries about war in Ukraine, the global financial outlook and aggressive interest-rate hikes have prompted many economists to predict a recession in the next year.

See also: Statement by President Biden on Second Quarter GDP Report.

More Stories To Check Out

Reuters: Former Republicans and Democrats form new third U.S. political party. The so-called Democrat is Andrew Yang, the professional troll and troublemaker. The “Republicans” are David Jolly and Christie Todd Whitman, who wrote this Washington Post opinion piece: Most third parties have failed. Here’s why ours won’t.

The Washington Post: Adam Schiff is jockeying to lead House Democrats. It won’t be easy. I’d prefer Hakeem Jeffries.

AP News: Japanese city alarmed by biting, clawing, attacking monkeys.

The New York Times: Potentially Deadly Bacteria Detected in U.S. Soil for First Time. The samples in the U.S. came from the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

That’s my mixed bad of suggested reads for today. Take care, Sky Dancers, and have a great Thursday!

11 Comments on “Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I’m not all that surprised about the dips in GDP. It’s a reaction to the fed’s increased interest rates to slow down inflation. Since employment numbers are still good, it’s hard to call it a recession. Hopefully, there will be a soft landing from the double black swans of Covid-19 and then Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    • quixote says:

      Indeed. No particular signs of recession (eg as you just said, and WaPo), _except_ the anomalous GDP reading. Cue screaming monkeys….

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    And this is the party of law and order? No more!

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    His idea of religious liberty is slavery for women.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      The egos of some of the Justices on the SCOTUS are out of control and further undermine the legitimacy of the court. Trash talking and victory laps are unbecoming.

      .Remember the episode of West Wing where Leo McGarry had to basically “fire” his sister for relishing the arrest of two students who broke a law regarding prayer in school. She called a photographer to capture the moment for the press. Leo told her to decline a cabinet nomination because the way she handled the arrest was beneath the dignity and gravity of the situation.

      Enforcing the law was the right thing, but he said, “we do not strut….ever”

      If Alito really believed in the dignity and gravity of his office, he would not behave this way.

      The court exercised pure brute foirce politics, and he is not even trying to hide it.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The Supreme Court has lost all credibility. Roberts has lost control of his court and he should resign. Thomas should resign or be impeached. The only solution at this point is to expand to 13 justices and pass laws to require ethics rules and limit their power to overturn precedents.

        • Beata says:

          Thirteen justices for thirteen circuits. Makes sense to me.

          • RonStill4Hills says:


          • quixote says:

            Needed to be done Feb 2021, during whatever honeymoon period there was. And voting rights should have been second. *Then* shower money on the economy, which was vital too. Just not enough by itself.

            (And at the first sign of crap from Manema, they should have been shown whatever thumbscrews the FBI has on them. Two who are so corrupt will have lots of pressure points. I know it’s illegal, unethical, and immoral. So are they. They understand only force.)