Monday, November 28, 2022

On Our Virtual Route 66 (Final Month-End Edition): On Our World

December 2022 is before us.   Our team pulled together a snapshot of the discourse on the week and month as we look forward to the continued  privilege to serve:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy answers questions.

Kevin McCarthy answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 11, 2019. | Win McNamee/Getty Images


THE WEEK — Monday: VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY addresses NATO Parliamentary Assembly. JOE BIDEN pardons two turkeys. … Tuesday: MICHAEL FLYNN testifies before Georgia grand jury investigating DONALD TRUMP’s alleged election interference. … Thursday: Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s Parade starts at 9 a.m., the Bills-Lions game at 12:30 p.m., Giants-Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. and Patriots-Vikings at 8:20 p.m. … Saturday: Early voting starts in some Georgia counties for the Dec. 6 Senate runoff, litigation permitting .

PROBES AND PITFALLS — With NANCY PELOSI stepping aside, DONALD TRUMP launching another run for president, RICK SCOTT challenging MITCH McCONNELL for Senate GOP leader and KEVIN McCARTHY scrambling for the speaker’s gavel, one big story last week got a lot less attention than it should have.

Two soon-to-be House chairs, Oversight’s JAMES COMER (R-Ky.) and Judiciary’s JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio), detailed their plans to investigate JOE BIDEN and his son HUNTER BIDEN as well as a host of policy matters.

There’s been plenty of chatter about how much of a headache the countless GOP subpoenas could be for Biden’s White House. But when it comes to investigating Biden — and potentially impeaching him — Republicans are going to run into several problems of their own.

 1. The internal politics. We’re already hearing from a host of moderate House Republicans who won in Biden districts who are dreading the prospect of overly aggressive probes. It’s not what they ran on this election cycle — and certainly not what they want to be talking about after spending their campaigns focused on the economy.

Our Olivia Beavers, Jordain Carney and Sarah Ferris are up this morning with a story about how the moderate wing of the party will try to flex its muscle to counter the hard right. That could include pushing back against Trump allies in the House, like Jordan, who are eager to see Biden probes take center stage.

It echoes the dynamic among House Democrats after they won the majority in 2019, where Pelosi spent months trying to pump the brakes on the left’s push for investigations and impeachment. This time around, McCarthy is dealing with a much more emboldened right flank that is ready and willing to use its leverage to get what it wants.

2. The public sentiment. The week of the election, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that fewer “than 3 in 10 voters said Congress should focus on a presidential impeachment investigation … or the first son’s politically uncomfortable business dealings — though there is zeal among over half of the GOP electorate for such probes.”

The sentiment shines through anecdotally, too. The market research firm Engagious conducted a focus group with Trump-to-Biden swing voters in Georgia just days after the election. “In what should be a massive red flag to Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team, none of the respondents thinks it’s necessary to investigate Hunter Biden,” reported Engagious President RICH THAU.

Here’s a sampling of comments from participants: “If it wasn’t Biden’s son, I don’t think anybody would give a damn” … “There’s so many more issues to focus on” … “We have more pressing issues at hand.”

In a similar vein, participants were also skeptical of probing infectious disease expert ANTHONY FAUCI and how the Covid-19 pandemic was handled: “What are they going to do? What’s the outcome? Why?” … “Spend millions of dollars doing it? … Ridiculous” … “That’s precious time that they’re losing that they could be spending on other issues.”

None of the focus group’s participants wanted to see investigations of the FBI’s raid of Mar-a-Lago, either — or even the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Seven, however, were interested in a GOP probe of border issues.

“Their message was clear: Focus on today and tomorrow, not yesterday,” Thau said. (h/t WaPo’s Paul Kane, who flagged this study for us on a panel last week.)

 Related: McCarthy announced Sunday he’d travel this week to the border and that Republicans would “use every tool at our disposal — from the power of the purse to power of the subpoena” to address it.

3. The elusive evidence. Given the public skepticism, Republicans will need to amass some seriously compelling evidence if they want to justify their probes to voters. But while Hill subpoenas will go flying down Pennsylvania Avenue in no time, there’s little reason to think anything substantial will come back.


A message from The American Petroleum Institute (API):

With much of the election cycle behind us, the next Congress can resolve current and future energy challenges by addressing the mismatch between available energy supply and growing demand that is putting upward pressure on prices. A recent Rystad study found that implementing API’s 10-Point Policy Plan could spur nearly $200 billion in direct investment, generate over 225,000 jobs by 2035, and provide consumers relief with more U.S. natural gas, oil, CCUS and hydrogen supplies.


Thanks to Trump’s stonewalling posture — remember him vowing to ignore “all the subpoenas” sent by House Democrats? — Biden now has a precedent for totally snubbing Congress.

The Republicans who are now targeting Biden foresaw this complication. In “Unchecked — The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump” ( $28 ), Rachael and coauthor Karoun Demirjian scooped that McCarthy’s and Jordan’s teams tried to convince Trump to cooperate with House requests because they knew a future Democratic president might return the favor one day, crippling Congress’s oversight power. (Of course, they never said this out loud.)

That day has now come.

TALKER: “MRS. FETTERMAN GOES TO WASHINGTON” — Pablo Manriquez has a buzzy exclusive this morning for The New Republic with GISELE BARRETO FETTERMAN, wife of Sen.-elect JOHN FETTERMAN (D-Pa.). She opens up about the right’s obsession with her — particularly the emerging caricature in Republican circles that she is a “nefarious puppeteer seeking to replace her disabled husband,” as Manriquez puts it.

“The right-wing hates women,” she told Manriquez, who trailed her during Senate orientation week. “They especially hate strong women, and I think that's what you're seeing. … The fact that a spouse of a senator-elect has been attacked nonstop for the past 24 hours and everyone's okay with it and everyone thinks it's normal … it’s not normal.”

She put to rest any suggestions that she has political ambitions of her own: “Never,” she said of running for office someday. “It’s not for me. It’s a very cruel world, and I am not cruel. I don’t ever wanna become cruel. I’m sensitive. I want people to like me. It hurts me when people are mean.”

Come for the dish on her $12 wardrobe and the struggle to find a bathroom in the Capitol. Stay for the cracks about her husband being an “ogre” who’s too big to fit in pictures.

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We close out with the following: