She’s not even cold…
Does anyone have Gavin Newsom’s number? The California governor’s phone must be blowing up today after the sad passing of his state’s senior senator Dianne Feinstein at the age of ninety. Feinstein was already set to retire this cycle, with three members of Congress in the running to replace her, who my comrade Cockburn characterizes as “fresh-faced seventy-seven-year-old Barbara Lee, boss-of-the-year Katie Porter and grown-up Caillou Adam Schiff.” Another option from the House comes in the form of Lee’s Senate campaign co-chair.
Newsom had previously pledged to select a black woman to fill any future vacancies — which could indicate a preference for Lee. But if that’s how he’s narrowing the choice down, there are other options. Already prognosticators online are suggesting he move Vice President Kamala Harris back into a role in which she was more comfortable. Then there’s the unlikely-but-good-for-clicks prospect that he might plump for Meghan Markle. Oh, and Hunter Biden just bought a house in Malibu last month. We can dream…
On our radar
GOVERNMENT FUNDING BILL FLUB House Republicans failed in a Friday effort to pass a short-term bill to fund the government until the end of next month. Twenty-one of their members led by Representative voted against it.
RFK GOES SOLO Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is set to announce a bid as an Independent on October 9, per Mediaite, after the Democratic National Committee denied him and Marianne Williamson the opportunity to debate President Biden.
MASS DEBATE APATHY A joint poll from FiveThirtyEight, the Washington Post and Ipsos revealed that “the performance of the candidates had little impact on the overall race” among the Republican voters polled.
Jordan quizzes Biden staffers about social media censorship
Rob Flaherty, a former Biden White House aide-turned campaign staffer is heading from the frying pan into the fire with a letter hitting his mailbox from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee asking for information on his “extensive personal involvement in the government’s efforts to censor or remove certain viewpoints on social media.”
Committee char Jim Jordan is pressing Flaherty for more information about his controversial work from the government with Big Tech companies to censor online speech the White House didn’t like. Jordan wants Flaherty in person to answer for his role in telling Facebook to “kick people off.”
In one telling email, Flaherty used his White House job to boss Facebook around, emailing them: ”Are you guys fucking serious? I want an answer on what happened here and I want it today.”
Now, Jordan wants answers on what happened, and he wants them by October 13, including “the central role you played in communicating the Biden White House’s censorship demands to social media companies, including the White House’s demands to censor true information.” If he doesn’t show by then, the committee is ready to “resort to compulsory process, if necessary.”
The committee also sent a similar letter to Andy Slavitt, the former Covid czar, who had been offended at potentially deadly speech on platforms such as Facebook that included a problematic meme (the horror!) — which, last we checked, is protected by the First Amendment.
House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry flub
Despite conventional wisdom, the House GOP push to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is surprisingly popular.
Its opening salvo, however, fell flat. Republicans faced optics problems due to the cautious nature of the witnesses that they summoned. One, forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky, said he was “not here today to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud, or any wrongdoing.”
The entire point of the escalated inquiry is to get those results, after all — however, soundbites like that from Dubinsky and another GOP witness, Jonathan Turley, who told the committee that he did not see grounds for articles of impeachment, make for a rough row to hoe.
Republicans are trying to draw a fine line between an impeachment inquiry, which gives them increased investigative power, and outright impeaching the 46th president — a line that will be tougher to draw when Republicans in office such as Ken Buck, a Freedom Caucus member and vocal opponent of impeaching Biden, are pouring cold water on the matter.
None of this is to say that Democrats on the Oversight Committee acquitted themselves particularly well. At one point, freshman Democrat Jasmine Crockett insisted that the only thing Biden is truly guilty of is being a loving father.
Sometimes, first impressions last a lifetime; other times, they couldn’t matter less. From what Cockburn is hearing, even from Republicans, Oversight chair James Comer needs to focus on the granular specifics, and not get over his skis with the claims he’s making about corruption in the Biden family. Time will tell.