with Tobi Raji

It's Friday. We made it. Have a great weekend & we'll see you on Monday. This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

On the Hill

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER: A big investigative showdown is anticipated next week in Washington. And ex-president Donald Trump, for one of the first times since he was elected in 2016, won't be at the center of it. 

When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pulled all five of his designees from the Jan. 6 selection committee earlier this week, he also inadvertently sidelined his members from defending the former president and de facto leader of the Republican Party during a high profile investigation. 

According to a source inside his orbit, Twitterless Trump is likely to be angry if he watches the first hearing of the Jan. 6 committee, or sees wall-to-wall cable news coverage of the proceedings but does not see any Republicans coming to his defense (he continues to regularly spend time watching television every day). 

Deplatformed from the most prominent social media outlets, Trump will largely have to rely on email to defend his actions leading up to and on the day of the insurrection on the Capitol. 

  • “Republicans should know better by now,” a former Trump aide told Power Up. “The worst thing that can happen is for Democrats and Never Trumpers have multiple shots on goal on Trump that will be shown on every cable news network.” 

Republican aides privately told Power Up that the role of publicly defending Trump's actions on Jan. 6 was not a coveted one. McCarthy vowed to have the GOP launch it's “own investigation of the facts” but has yet to provide specifics of what such an inquiry would entail.

  • “You'd have to ask him that question,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) responded when asked about Trump's potential reaction to the absence of a defense for him.

House Democrats on Thursday backed Pelosi's unprecedented decision to reject both Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), my colleagues Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane and I report: “The upheaval of congressional norms, several said Thursday, was outweighed by the risk of giving Republicans an official platform to distort, minimize and deflect a focused inquiry into the causes of the riot.”

  • “We want people who are going to have allegiance to the oath of office that they took, not an allegiance to one person. And they’ve clearly pledged their allegiance to the former president, Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), one of the Democrats serving on the panel, told us. 
  • “There’s a certain conduct and respectability that we’ve been able to maintain,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who is leading the inquiry. “Some of them don’t have exactly a reputation for civility and decorum.”

Technically, the select committee is still bipartisan, as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), chosen by Pelosi, will serve on the committee. Multiple members told us that Pelosi was considering naming additional GOP members to the panel — like anti-Trump Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — but Thompson told reporters that he's prepared to move forward either way. 

Thompson so far has named David Buckley, a former CIA inspector general, as the panel’s top staffer, and told reporters that Republicans could be added to the staff as soon as this weekend. 

  • While Thompson would not comment on potential hires, former GOP congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia met with Thompson’s staff on Thursday. 

Global power

HAPPENING TODAY: After a year-long delay, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are here “with the once-every-two-years display of pomp, circumstance, parades, oath-taking, flame-lighting and various cultural oddities,” our Post colleague Matt Bonesteel writes.

The Olympics, a.k.a. the sensory-deprivation games: “The stadiums and arenas are empty,” our colleague Dave Sheinin writes. “The conversations are through masks and plexiglass partitions, the contact anything but the prohibited ‘close.’”

  • “Visitors must spit into plastic tubes at regular intervals. Their movements are tracked by smartphone apps that must be downloaded and the eyes of uniformed men on street corners, seemingly with the preeminent goal of preventing visits to restaurants or bars.”
  • “Only the top halves of faces can be seen, but it is nonetheless clear: No one is smiling. These are the Sensory-Deprivation Olympics: No fans. No natural crowd noise. No touching.”

The Olympics, a.k.a. the anger games. “Once again, Japan finds its quarantine broken, not by a foreign fleet but by the arrival of thousands of foreign Olympians and their entourages,” the New Yorker’s Matt Alt writes.

  • “Now the city’s mood ricochets between fury and resignation, [fueled] by a toxic mix of unpopular policies and scandals: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s unalloyed boosterism for a sporting event that few citizens seem to truly want; a restriction of the operating hours of eateries and the sale of alcohol, measures intended to blunt the spread of covid-19; and, perhaps most grating, promises of safety that ring hollow.”
  • “Polls have consistently shown that a majority of people in Japan would prefer that the Games be postponed again or abandoned altogether, and approval ratings of Suga’s cabinet are at an all-time low.”
  • “The problems facing Tokyo’s Olympic organizers are a combination of the familiar — public opposition, budget overruns, logistical inconveniences, scandals — and the unprecedented hazards of holding an international sporting event amid a global pandemic still very much not under control.”

“For athletes competing, the Games will clearly have a very different complexion compared to others, most prominently because of the absence of fans,” per CNN’s George Ramsay.

  • “Those likely to make headlines over the next 16 days include American gymnast and defending Olympic champion in the individual all-around, Simone Biles, American swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, and Japanese tennis star and four-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka.” 

What about niche sports? “Grace Luczak had left competitive rowing and taken a job in the private sector when a move toward gender equity at the Tokyo Games lured her back into a boat,” AP News’ Jenna Fryer writes.

  • “A women’s rowing event was added to create a more inclusive Olympics, which meant four additional seats on the U.S. team and a spot for Luczak.”
  • “It’s really hard to make the decision to come back, to plan financially to be out of work for a year,” Luczak told Fryer. “She thought a second consecutive Games wasn’t possible for a veteran until the seats were added.”
  • “There are four more seats. Four. And it’s the first gender-equal Olympics. How can you not try?”
  • “Most of the public attention goes to the big sports — gymnastics, swimming, track and field — but away from the spotlight, women from niche sports are being recognized and given an Olympics chance.”

The campaign

BIDEN TAKES ARLINGTON: Terry McAuliffe had just won the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia last month when he got a call from President Biden,” our Post colleague Sean Sullivan writes.

  • “Terry, I’m all in,” Biden told him. “What do you want?”
  • “I need you to come in and, you know, help campaign,” replied McAuliffe, who recalled the conversation in an interview.
  • “I’m there,” Biden replied.

Happening today: “Biden will make his first candidate-specific foray onto the campaign trail as president, a quick hop across the Potomac River to Arlington to stump for McAuliffe in the year’s marquee election, a contest that is stoking some Democratic nervousness.”

  • “The race is shaping up as a pivotal first test of the appeal of Biden’s agenda, as well as whether the moderate, suburban-led coalition that propelled him into office will endure or evaporate in the post-Trump era.”
  • “Friday's event kick-starts what Biden’s friends and associates expect to be an aggressive schedule this election cycle as Democrats try to transcend the historical pattern of a president’s party getting pummeled in midterm elections.”
  • Risk vs. reward. “But injecting Biden into state and local campaigns also carries risks for Democrats. The president has long shown a tendency to veer off script, sometimes to the point of making distracting comments that require cleanup by him and his aides. And Biden's popularity, while steady, is not overwhelming, with many Republicans already turning against him.”

COURTING DONALD TRUMP: “Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens keeps getting questions on the campaign trail about the state of his relationship with Trump,” per our colleagues Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey.

  • “But the scandal-scarred Senate candidate, who is trying to run under the banner of Trump’s ‘America First’ movement, always finds a way to avoid a direct answer.”
  • “We are honored to have so many of Donald Trump’s strongest fighters on our team,” Greitens said last month in one interview on a conservative podcast when asked about the relationship.
  • “The dodge glosses over one of the most dramatic behind-the-scenes battles for Trump’s favor taking place right now. The former president has hosted a steady stream of potential candidates, sitting senators and political kibitzers who have tried to keep him from endorsing Greitens, a devoted cheerleader who is trying to use Trump’s grass-roots strength to emerge from disastrous allegations of bound hands and coercive sex that forced his resignation as governor in 2018.”

“Few candidates have done more in recent months to court Trump, or to compare his own controversy to the scandals that enveloped the former president. Yet in a state that Trump won by 15 points in 2020, the Greitens campaign has tested the question of just how far the former president and Republican voters are willing to go to overlook past misdeeds.”

The investigations

KAVANAUGH UNDER FIRE: “Seven Democratic senators on Thursday said that newly released materials show the FBI failed to fully investigate sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh when he was nominated to the court in 2018,” Reuters’ Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball report.

  • “The senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse and Christopher A. Coons, said a letter they received from the FBI last month shows the agency gathered over 4,500 tips relating to Kavanaugh without any apparent further action by investigators.”
  • “According to that June 30 letter, written by FBI Assistant Director Jill Tyson, the most ‘relevant’ of the 4,500 tips were referred to lawyers in Trump’s White House whose handling of them remains unclear.”
  • “The revelation reignited fierce accusations from liberals who say that the FBI and the Trump White House did not sufficiently examine allegations against Kavanaugh in the wake of accusations from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that he had sexually assaulted her at a party in the Maryland suburbs when they were both in high school,” CNN’s Ariane de Vogue writes.

The people

SIP BACK & RELAX: It's been awhile since we've passed along a recipe.. so we got our hands on something from the founders of one of our favorite canned cocktail – Ranch Rider Spirits – for a convincing dupe. (Though, I highly recommend shipping yourself some of the real thing…!) 

In the media

WEEKEND REEEADS: 

Viral