On the Hill
Capitol Police force braces for ‘Justice for J6’ rally on Saturday
🚨: A Sept. 18 rally outside the Capitol in support of those arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection is the first major test for law enforcement authorities since that infamous date.
And both the Capitol Police and the D.C. police are preparing for the “Justice for J6 rally,” planned by a nonprofit led by ex-Donald Trump campaign staffer Matt Braynard. The goal of about 700 rallygoers, per Braynard, is peacefully demanding charges be dropped against nonviolent Jan. 6 protesters, who he claims “reasonably believed” they had permission to enter the Capitol.
Overall, there's more confidence in the level of preparedness and far more communication and information sharing under the Capitol Police's new leadership, according to two sources in the force. The police board has issued an “emergency declaration” allowing outside law enforcement officers to aid them on Saturday if needed. But for many of the officers who lived through Jan. 6 and will be on duty again this weekend, an undercurrent of fear remains.
“Am I scared? Absolutely,” an officer told The Early 202.
The rally comes as a bitter partisan divide has emerged over Jan. 6: Republicans have sought to discredit the work of the Jan. 6 select committee and some House Republicans have gone so far as to prop up and support the accused insurrectionists.
The select committee has remained relatively quiet since earlier this month when it requested records from telecommunications, social media companies and government agencies seeking to assemble a comprehensive record of events.
Will the select committee be stymied by Trump?
Conversations with constitutional experts and lawyers with whom the Jan. 6 committee staff has consulted point to several potential obstacles to the investigation — the biggest one being Trump himself.
Jamie Gorelick, who worked on the Sept. 11 commission and declined to say whether the Jan. 6 panel has sought her advice, believes the Justice Department is likely to be “consistent” in the application of the decision to waive executive privilege and that “given the stakes for Congress... the Biden administration will try to be as accommodating as it can be.”
Still, it remains unclear whether Trump will seek to potentially delay the House investigation by blocking the release of documents and the testimony of former administration officials and lawmakers.
But even with potential stonewalling by Trump, investigators will still be much less constrained when pursuing documents compared to when Trump was in office, according to Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School who testified in the first public impeachment inquiry into Trump.
“It's a lot simpler when you have an administration in office who is not the one you are investigating,” said Feldman.
A lawyer familiar with the congressional investigation and the oversight process went even further, arguing that Trump does not have “much ground to stand on with regards to executive privilege at all.”
“The most protectable would be communications about deployment of security forces. But in terms of the things he did surrounding the rally itself, and what he was doing to contest the election and efforts to ensure that it wasn't certified — that doesn't strike me as a valid assertion of executive privilege.”
FIRST IN THE EARLY
The Center for American Progress, the National Education Association, the NAACP and more than two dozen other groups sent a letter to top Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday urging them not to bow to pressure to trim the reconciliation bill's size.
“We write to make clear how important it is to communities of color that Congress enact a robust budget reconciliation package of at least $3.5 trillion in investments in our communities funded through fairer taxes on the rich and corporations,” they wrote.
At the White House
Biden announces nuclear defense deal with Australia
New alliances from Down Under: “Biden announced Wednesday the United States and Britain will share highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology with Australia, a major departure from past policy and a direct challenge to China in its Pacific neighborhood,” our colleagues Tyler Pager and Anne Gearan report.
- “The decision to share the technology for naval reactors, even to a close ally, was a major move for Biden — one bound to raise protests by China and questions from American allies and nonproliferation experts,” the New York Times’s David E. Sanger and Zolan Kanno-Youngs write.
- “The nuclear reactors that power American and British submarines use bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium … And for two decades, Washington has been on a drive to eliminate reactors around the world … But the arrangement with Australia seems almost sure to move in the other direction.”
- “The arrangement could also lead to damaged relations with France, with one former French ambassador to the United States saying on Twitter the countries ‘stabbed’ France in the back,” Pager and Gearan report.
‘Productive’ meetings with Manchin and Sinema
One-on-one lobbying: As House Democrats on Wednesday finished producing their 2,600-page budget proposal, Biden met separately with the two Democratic senators who are wariest about voting for it: Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.). A White House official described the meetings as “productive” and emphasized that Biden “is in regular touch with a wide range of House and Senate members” about the bill (though not all of them have scored one-on-one White House meetings.)
Manchin gets all the attention, but Sinema's vote is just as key and “some Democrats quietly fear her objections could be even more nettlesome,” our colleague Mike DeBonis reports.
- “According to more than a dozen interviews with her Senate colleagues and aides involved in the negotiations, Sinema and her staff have been closely involved in the talks, asking detailed questions to several key lawmakers and committee aides to understand the justification for proposed spending and tax increases.”
What's next: Biden will promote his “Build Back Better” agenda this afternoon in an East Room speech. He’ll make the case “we need to lower the cost of raising a child, of prescription drugs, of taking care of an aging parent, of health care, of high-speed internet, and of hearing aids,” according to a White House official.
It's notable Biden plans to mention prescription drugs, since three Democrats — Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.) — yesterday tanked their party's plan to cut drug prices in a committee vote. (The language could still end up being included in the final bill.)
On K Street
Washington predicts budget bill could pass any time from Halloween to Hanukkah
Annals of timing: The White House expects the budget bill will “move forward” before Biden heads to Scotland in November for the U.N. climate summit, White House press secretary Jen Psaki yesterday told reporters. Whether or not she’s right might depend on your definition of moving forward, according to several Democratic lobbyists.
Rich Gold, who heads the public policy and regulation group at the law and lobbying firm Holland & Knight, said he thought the bill could pass the House by mid- to late October but that it would take another three to four weeks to make it through the Senate.
“So Thanksgiving is optimistic,” he wrote in email to The Early 202.
While the bill certainly could land on Biden’s desk before he leaves for Glasgow, “my prediction is close to Hanukkah than Halloween,” Izzy Klein, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Charles D. Schumer (D-N.Y.) who’s now a lobbyist, wrote in an email.
The Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf was more optimistic, saying he had no reason to doubt House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Schumer could meet the faster timetable they’ve laid out.
“All I know is what the speaker and the leader say and I think you have to take them at their word,” he said. “They’ve set up an aggressive schedule and so far they’ve met it.”
Afghans turn to K Street: Ahmad Massoud, the leader of one of the most prominent groups of fighters seeking to oust the Taliban from power, signed the contract this week with Robert Stryk, who built a lobbying practice during the Trump administration working with clients that others on K Street were wary of representing," the Times reports.
One in 500 Americans have died from covid-19
An incalculable loss, visualized: “At a certain point, it was no longer a matter of if the United States would reach the gruesome milestone of 1 in 500 people dying of covid-19, but a matter of when,” our colleagues Dan Keating, Akilah Johnson and Monica Ulmanu write. “A year? Maybe 15 months? The answer: 19 months.”
Beltway book club:
- Emboldened by recall win, Democrats brush aside talk of unity and escalate attacks on Republicans. By The Post’s Sean Sullivan and David Weigel.
- The Biden administration looks to expanded child care funds to combat labor shortages. By the New York Times’s Alan Rappeport.
- FDA says covid-19 vaccines remain effective without boosters. By the Wall Street Journal’s Jared S. Hopkins and Felicia Schwartz.
Day 3 of #Ballgate: There won’t be a ‘Pink Friday’ at the White House.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.