(A)Political Newsletter - Volume 26

(A)Political Newsletter - U.S. Political News & Election Updates

Good morning everyone,

It’s been a good week of news, with the Iowa Caucuses just a few days away. The last remaining Republican candidates are brawling, or not (Trump), on the debate stage. The Secretary of Defense is undergoing a scandal, and House Speaker Johnson is undergoing conservative pushback over a spending bill (where have we heard that before?). Trump’s main legal defense of “presidential immunity” was also questioned by federal judges overseeing his trial. Let’s dive in.

In today’s edition:

  • Stock Watching/Poll Updates

  • Haley, DeSantis Debate in Final Debate before Primaries

  • White House Undergoes SecDef Austin Fallout

  • Speaker Johnson Tries to Pass Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown

  • Trump Immunity Defense Questioned by Judges


  • Representative French Hill just disclosed a sale of up to $50K of PayPal stock.

    • He also sold up to $100K of Charles Schwab stock.

    • Hill sits on the House Financial Services Committee.

  • Representative Mike Collins just disclosed two more purchases of Ethereum, worth up to $65K.

    • Collins started buying up Ethereum on October 9th.

    • This was almost perfect timing.

    • It has risen over 50% in the three months since then.

  • Representative Laurel Lee just disclosed a sale of up to $250K of stock in the Chinese company Alibaba.

    • Lee sits on the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity.

  • Representative Josh Gottheimer just disclosed a purchase of stock in the defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

    • Gottheimer sits on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

  • I just caught a suspicious trade by a US Senator. Senator John Boozman is buying up palladium.

    • Palladium is a metal that is mostly used in catalytic converters.

    • It's the first time I've seen a politician buy it.

    • Boozman sits on the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation.

  • Nvidia stock hit a new all time high today.

    • Pelosi's call options are paying off so far.

  • Senator John Fetterman has cosponsored a bill that would ban congressional stock trading. We have not seen him trade any stock while in office.

    • We estimate his net worth to be around $1.1M.

  • It's a bit off-brand, but I want to start highlighting politicians who put their money into a blind trust.

    • Senator Mark Kelly made a blind trust filing earlier this week.

  • Here are our estimates of the median net worth in Congress, by generation. Maxwell Frost is the only Zoomer in Congress. He previously worked as an Uber driver.

    • Zoomers (1 member): $0 Millenials (55): $640K Gen X (192): $1.2M Boomers (263): $2.9M Silent (30): $3.3M

Haley, DeSantis Square Off in Final Debate Before Primaries

(Photo - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

January 10, 2024 - The Republican primary presidential candidates on the debate stage have been winnowed down to two: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. The two have been continually attacking each other, and to a lesser extent, former President Trump, in preparation for the Iowa Caucuses and overall primary season. During the last debate before the Caucuses, they were trading so many attacks that, for some of the debate, their words became indistinguishable. On foreign policy, Haley continued her support for Ukraine, stating that it would be useful to counter China. DeSantis continued his skepticism of continual support for Ukraine, but both stated their unequivocal support for Israel during the Gaza War.

On the economic front, DeSantis has supported a flat tax across all income levels, which Haley dinged him on. Haley is supportive of the conventional progressive income tax but has stated her intention to continue the Trump-era tax breaks. For the everlasting problem of entitlement reform, Haley stated that twenty-year-olds should expect a rise in the retirement age, which DeSantis promised would never happen if he were president. Haley then retorted that, as a member of the House of Representatives, DeSantis voted to raise the retirement age for three years straight. On the topic of abortion, DeSantis tried to paint Haley as flip-flopping on the issue, saying, "I think she's trying to speak to different groups with different things." Haley stated that she was “pro-life.”

The one person who was noticeably absent was former President Trump. Mr. Trump appeared live on Fox News for the first time in two years. He was in front of a friendly audience and made one of the most important statements of his presidential race so far: that he had chosen his running mate. However, Mr. Trump did not elaborate on the person’s name. Mr. Trump said that former Gov. Chris Christie, who had dropped out of the race the same day, was “right” about his criticism of Haley.

White House Undergoes SecDef Austin Fallout

(Photo - Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

January 11, 2024 - The fallout over Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin not informing the White House or Congress that he was incapacitated for a few days continues. The fallout grew as the public was informed that Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer, just a few hours after the White House was informed. Austin was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital complaining of pain in his body after an “elective” procedure, which is still unknown. While Austin was incapacitated, his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, was vacationing with family in Puerto Rico when powers were transferred to her, without her understanding why. After multiple days, the truth gradually came to light, with the White House issuing orders to all departments on their transfer of power processes.

Republican backlash was swift. Conservative members of the House, such as Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), have filed impeachment charges against Austin for the scandal. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH.) has stated he wants Austin to be fired. Mr. Trump said the same, but included that President Biden should be fired as well. Some Democrats have also called on Austin to resign, such as Chris Peluzio (D.-PA). Mr. Biden has conveyed to Austin that he will not fire him and will not accept Austin’s resignation if offered.

Speaker Johnson Tries to Pass Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown

(Photo - Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

January 11, 2024 - House Speaker Johnson has made a deal with Senate Democrats for a funding package that does not include any concessions over the border, which has angered conservative Republicans. In a show of dissatisfaction, they temporarily held up a vote on Wednesday to show they still have power over House proceedings. Hardline conservatives are pushing him to renege on the deal made, which could possibly throw the government into another shutdown on Jan. 20. This could potentially create more chaos for the House, which Speaker Johnson does not want. However, if he does not acquiesce to conservatives’ demands, they might use the same ''motion to vacate'' rule that they used against former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

This faction in the Republicans is being accused of only saber-rattling by the rest of the conference. Many of the Republican moderates do not believe that the hardliners want a repeat of the three weeks when there was no House Speaker, which became a PR nightmare for the House Republican conference. The move could also empower Democrats to push for a Speaker Hakeem Jeffries, which moderate Republicans might agree to have.

Trump Immunity Defense Questioned by Judges, Politicians

(Photo - Scott Olson/Getty Images)

January 9, 2024 - Former President Trump’s lawyer argued in federal court that presidents had near immunity from any criminal prosecution for actions they took while in office. During a round of questioning over hypotheticals, the judges asked Trump’s lawyer, John Sauer, if the assassination of a political rival by Seal Team Six was allowed. Sauer argued that a president is immune from prosecution unless they have been impeached and convicted by the U.S. Senate. The declaration was condemned by Democrats, who continue to state that Trump is a threat to democracy.

Mr. Trump himself is dealing with legal battles on multiple fronts. Other than the immunity trial, which Mr. Trump personally attended, he was also in New York City to witness closing arguments over the Trump Organization trial. These days in court have been hurting the number of campaign pitches, which is not as important during the primaries while he has such a wide lead but could hurt him in the general election. Since he is not physically campaigning in states, he cannot get his message as well as he would normally be able - as his rallies tend to be where he excels at driving the base.

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