Every issue of the Punchbowl News newsletter, including our special editions, right here at your fingertips.
Join the community, and get the morning edition delivered straight to your inbox.
Happy Monday morning.
Congress is out until early September. President Joe Biden is spending the week at the beach.
Let’s turn to former President Donald Trump and his increasingly strident push for Biden’s impeachment. As Trump’s legal problems worsen, he’s gotten even more vocal about calling for House Republicans to act against Biden. This is a growing problem for Speaker Kevin McCarthy and vulnerable GOP lawmakers, who find themselves in a difficult situation politically.
Trump — fresh off a revised federal criminal indictment with more charges possible in Washington and Georgia — said this during his Saturday night rally in Erie, Pa.:
“Any Republican that doesn’t act on Democrat fraud should be immediately primaried and get out…
“If they’re not willing to do it, we’ve got a lot of good, tough Republicans around. People are going to run against ‘em, and people are going to win. And they’re going to get my endorsement every single time. They’re going to win cuz we win almost every race when we endorse.”
Trump also called for linking additional Ukraine aid to whether “the FBI, DOJ and IRS turn every scrap of evidence they have on the Biden crime family’s corrupt business dealings.” We’ll note that this is similar to what Trump was impeached for the first time — conditioning Ukraine aid on Biden-related investigations.
Pennsylvania GOP Reps. Mike Kelly and Dan Meuser were at the Trump event.
Let’s put this in perspective because it’s easy to just gloss over — the former president and GOP frontrunner for the 2024 nomination is calling for the impeachment of the sitting president and threatening rank-and-file Republicans who don’t support this effort. It comes as Trump could be indicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, during which he tried to overturn his loss in the 2020 election to Biden. Got it?
McCarthy and the House GOP leadership have tried to walk a very narrow line on this, but Trump seems determined to force them into action.
House Republicans speak constantly about — and fundraise off every day — Biden’s alleged corruption. McCarthy raised the prospect of opening an impeachment inquiry against Biden last Monday night, only to back away the next day, at least somewhat. McCarthy was also cautious during a later GOP conference meeting, telling his Republican colleagues that the leadership will wait to see what congressional investigators find before moving forward.
Meanwhile, a big part of the House legislative agenda — cutting spending by tens of billions of dollars — is stalled, with the prospect of a government shutdown looming in September.
Having Trump threaten his 2024 vulnerables — who aren’t rushing to sign onto any impeachment push — is potentially disastrous for McCarthy and the Republican leadership.
Here’s Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb):
“Speaker McCarthy is in the right spot on this. He said last [Wednesday] that the Judiciary and Oversight Committees will continue to investigate the most recent allegations, which are serious. He said it is too early for an impeachment inquiry. I believe the speaker is right. Let’s not follow Pelosi’s example by cutting corners on impeachment.”
Bacon was referring to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower came forward in July 2019 to disclose that Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation of the Bidens by withholding $400 million in military aid. A majority of Pelosi’s caucus had wanted to impeach Trump before then, but Pelosi held off until the Ukraine scandal broke.
In this case, only a fraction of House Republicans are backing the various impeachment resolutions that have been introduced already, although the drumbeat is growing louder every day on the right. Trump’s latest comments are his most aggressive yet in warning McCarthy about the fallout for the speaker if it doesn’t happen soon.
House Democrats, for their part, dismissed Trump’s latest barrage as just more inflammatory rhetoric from the former president.
“In addition to his expertise in deceit, deflection and dissembling, we can now add compartmentalization to Trump’s repertoire,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight Committee. “He conveniently fails to cite his own impeachment, his own statements on emails, his own chants of ‘Lock her up!’ This will force GOP cognitive dissonance on steroids.”
— John Bresnahan
PRESENTED BY WELLS FARGO
Wells Fargo is helping students across America realize their dreams of attending college. They provide funding for scholarships and programming to help promote equitable educational opportunities for diverse students. Learn More.
All eyes on Hunter Biden business associate testimony
Devon Archer, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, is expected to sit down behind closed doors this morning for a transcribed interview with the House Oversight Committee to discuss his knowledge of the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son.
Despite some last-minute drama — and accusations from House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) that the Justice Department was trying to suppress Archer’s testimony — both Democratic and GOP Oversight aides told us they expect Archer to appear.
Comer issued a subpoena to compel Archer to testify in June, arguing Archer played “a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including China, Russia, and Ukraine.”
Archer will tell the Oversight panel that Hunter Biden placed then-Vice President Biden on speakerphone for conversations with business partners, the New York Post reported last week. This claim is significant because of the alleged direct connection between Hunter’s deals and Joe Biden — a link that congressional Republicans have failed to definitively establish thus far.
Archer served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma with Hunter Biden.
Archer and two others were convicted on unrelated charges in June 2018 for defrauding a Native American tribe out of $60 million of bonds. After a long legal odyssey, Archer was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $15.7 million. Archer and his co-defendants also must make restitution on the other $43 million they swindled from the tribe.
Archer’s appeal failed recently, meaning that he can be asked to report to prison, as the Justice Department did on Saturday. Republicans — including Comer — asserted that DOJ officials were trying to interfere with Archer’s appearance.
However, a federal prosecutor later said in a court filing “The Government does not request (and has never requested) the defendant surrender before his Congressional testimony.”
Archer’s lawyer also told Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Jordain Carney that they didn’t think there was any effort to stop Archer from testifying.
— Max Cohen and John Bresnahan
Congress blames White House, N.Y. for crypto talk collapse
The House Financial Services Committee advanced long-awaited legislation to regulate stablecoins late last week. It wasn’t as bipartisan as it could have been, though, and now the finger-pointing has begun.
Five Democrats ultimately backed the Republican-drafted Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act — no small feat for Chair Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). But the bill lacked support from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and other senior Democrats, which could prove decisive as the bill moves through Congress.
We’ve written a lot about one core issue that divided Waters and McHenry in negotiations — a lack of direct federal oversight for state-chartered nonbank stablecoin companies in the proposed legislation.
But in recent days, we’ve also begun to hear a lot more complaints about “third parties” involved in the negotiations. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) said in an interview Friday that he believed a deal could have been struck with Waters “if there were not other voices that had been heavily engaged in the analysis.”
Both the White House and the New York Department of Financial Services, led by Superintendent Adrienne Harris, played a pivotal role in conversations around the bill. Harris’ advocacy was a key reason the legislation’s supporters coalesced around having a state-only path for stablecoin firms.
The Biden administration’s Lael Brainard led the opposition to that, lawmakers say. A former Fed governor and vice chair, Brainard now serves as the director of the National Economic Council.
“Talking to Lael Brainard, we had all been talking about the same concerns,” Waters told us. “We want real federal involvement” in stablecoins.
McHenry kicked off the markup by blaming the White House for the collapse of talks. “It was a White House’s unwillingness to compromise that has once again brought that negotiation to a halt,” he said.
But it would be a mistake to focus only on the White House’s objections. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), a top Democratic supporter of crypto who voted for the stablecoin bill, said Harris was “central player” in negotiations.
“New York members, such as myself, take our guidance from Adrienne,” Torres said of Harris. “If she were dissatisfied with the state option in the bill, then I would have trouble supporting it.”
Even before talks broke down, we could sense some friction stemming from NYDFS’ involvement heading into last week. When we spoke to Waters and asked about stablecoins negotiations earlier in July, the veteran lawmaker replied bluntly that “New York was still a problem.”
Republicans argue their bill introduces a “federal floor” of requirements and other regulations that state-level firms will need to comply with, even without the Federal Reserve’s direct supervision.
But Democrats say that for a federal floor to matter — particularly in states with easier stablecoin rules — firms need to contend with a federal regulator.
The White House “called on Congress to act,” Waters said during the markup Thursday.
“But they didn’t tell us to draft a federal framework that turns this regime over to states and let them run wild by not giving any federal regulator any tools to enforce the so-called federal floor,” she added.
The White House and New York Department of Financial Services didn’t respond to requests for comment.
— Brendan Pedersen
PRESENTED BY WELLS FARGO
Tim Sheehy, the Republican running for Senate in Montana, has two new bio spots up. They focus on his service in the Navy SEALs and his family. Sheehy is the NRSC’s favored candidate to run against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
— Jake Sherman
President Joe Biden is on vacation in Delaware. There will be no White House press briefings. Vice President Kamala Harris will do an interview with ABC News Live Prime today. Congress is out of session.
PRESENTED BY WELLS FARGO
“Who Paid for a Mysterious Spy Tool? The F.B.I., an F.B.I. Inquiry Found,” by Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman
“Trump Crushing DeSantis and G.O.P. Rivals, Times/Siena Poll Finds,” by Shane Goldmacher
“DeSantis Jabs at Trump’s Legal Trouble as He Resets His Campaign,” by Nicholas Nehamas in Rye, N.H.
“Trump gains advantage as states set delegate selection rules,” by Maeve Reston and Michael Scherer
“How the U.S. Economy Is Sticking the Soft Landing,” by Ruth Simon and Sarah Chaney Cambon
“GOP splits further over Tuberville’s military blockade as it stretches through summer,” by Burgess Everett and Olivia Beavers
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
PRESENTED BY WELLS FARGO
Wells Fargo is helping students across America realize their dreams of attending college. They are funding over $107 million in scholarships and programming to help promote equitable educational opportunities for diverse students. Learn More.
Crucial Capitol Hill news AM, Midday, and PM—5 times a week
Join a community of some of the most powerful people in Washington and beyond. Exclusive newsmaker events, parties, in-person and virtual briefings and more.Subscribe to Premium
The Canvass Year-End Report
And what senior aides and downtown figures believe will happen in 2023.Check it out