9 min read

Wake Up To Politics - July 5, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: What to watch for the rest of summer
Wake Up To Politics - July 5, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 126 days away. Election Day 2024 is 854 days away.

I hope you had a good Fourth of July weekend! In fact, I hope you had a good last week and a half, and that you didn’t miss me too much while WUTP was off the grid.

Obviously, it was quite a monumental period, with a lot of important news. But I’m back now — and I’ll be closely covering all the stories that I missed as they continue to reverberate in the weeks ahead, to bring you up to speed on the latest developments.

I’ll start with that this morning, giving you a quick big-picture look at the summer news so far, and a preview of where I think the news will be going next. Welcome back to waking up to politics.

What to watch for the rest of summer

At the beginning of the summer, noting that “the season is known for throwing political curveballs,” I posed nine questions on political topics that I expected to drive the news in the weeks and months ahead.

Now that Wake Up To Politics is back in your inbox, I want to offer a bit of an update — recapping what’s happened so far in a politically eventful summer, and directing your gaze on what to watch as the rest of the season unfolds.

Of the nine topics I detailed in May, it’s clear that the summer has been dominated by three sweeping storylines, each monumental in their own right: the Supreme Court’s swerve to the right, the unfurling of the January 6th investigation, and America’s epidemic of gun violence.

Let’s start with those three, and move out from there:

The Supreme Court’s swerve to the right

In one week at the end of June, the Supreme Court issued a series of rulings with the power to rapidly remake American life:

Each decision was a victory for the court’s six-justice conservative majority — and the Republican Party that appointed them. Researchers found that 74% of cases this term were decided with a conservative ruling, making this the most conservative Supreme Court term since 1931.

What to watch now: The battle over abortion has arrived in the states, with legislatures enacting laws to either ban or protect abortion, state courts either greenlighting them or holding them up, and referenda on abortion set to land on state ballots.

President Biden may have endorsed a filibuster carveout for abortion rights, but don’t be mistaken: the fight over abortion will be playing out in state capitals, not in Washington, over the weeks and months ahead. Democrats are still expected to push for bills codifying Roe and past Supreme Court decisions (such as protection of same-sex marriage), but the filibuster is not going anywhere in the 50-50 Senate.

Another major question looming over the political world is how the tectonic shift on abortion will play out in the midterm elections. Democrats hope the decision will redound to their benefit in November, with some polls and fundraising numbers to back that up. But the electoral implications of the ruling remain unclear, as high inflation and low approval of President Biden are still expected to drive Republican gains across the ballot.

Finally, the last dynamic to keep your eye on: where will the emboldened conservatives on the Supreme Court go next? Cases with big implications for election law, affirmative action, environmental policy, and other issues are set to be decided next term.

Abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court. (Gabe Fleisher / Wake Up To Politics)

The January 6th investigation

Throughout the summer, the House January 6th committee has begun unveiling the results of its investigation, painting a damning portrait of former President Trump’s final days in office.

The panel’s most dramatic session yet was with surprise witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old former Trump aide who testified about the former president’s insistence that he be taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6 with his supporters, whom he sent towards lawmakers despite knowing some were armed.

Most dramatically, Hutchinson’s testimony included a secondhand account — now in dispute — of Trump lunging for the steering wheel in his armored vehicle. More details on that story are likely to come in the coming weeks.

What to watch now: Members of the committee say after Hutchinson’s testimony — which drew 13 million viewers and added fresh legal risks for Trump — they have already had new witnesses come forward and they are “following additional leads.”

The panel is set to resume its hearings later this month, possibly with some of those new witnesses. The committee especially hopes to be hearing from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who Hutchinson said repeatedly raised legal concerns with Trump and his aides ahead of Jan. 6. The committee subpoenaed Cipollone to appear for a deposition tomorrow; it is unclear if he will comply.

Also expect future hearings to draw on footage that the committee recently obtained from a British documentarian who had access to Trump before and after Jan. 6. The panel is also likely continue detailing accusations of witness tampering hinted at during the hearing with Hutchinson; the broader theme of Trump’s attempts to influence (and pay the legal bills) of Jan. 6 witness is getting more treatment in the media. Don’t be surprised if it makes its way into the hearing room this month.

Meanwhile, the parallel Justice Department inquiry into Jan. 6 is only expanding, with recent subpoenas targeting Trump allies in multiple states, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, and lawyer John Eastman. That probe will continue to unfold behind the scenes, even as the committee’s investigation takes the spotlight.

Cassidy Hutchinson dropped a series of bombshells during recent testimony. (House January 6th committee)

America’s epidemic of gun violence

An all-too-familiar scene played out in Highland Park, Illinois yesterday, as a shooting at a Fourth of July parade tragically took six lives and injured 30 others.

That was not the only incident of violence to mar Independence Day: 71 people were shot in the city of Chicago over the holiday weekend, and 31 in New York City. A Fourth of July parade in Philadelphia was also interrupted by gunfire, sending crowds running and injuring two police officers.

“A celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) said of the Highland Park attack.

Of course, gun violence has been a theme coursing through the summer since the deadly attack at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas in May. That shooting led to the first serious federal gun control legislation in nearly 30 years, which passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Biden last month.

It remains to be seen whether the new law — which includes expansions to background checks and mental health services — will have a substantive impact on curbing the nationwide spree of violence.

What to watch now: Unfortunately, law enforcement officials are bracing for the rash of violent crime to continue throughout the summer summer. It is unlikely that further congressional action will come, although further state laws are possible.

In any event, the issue is expected to be highlighted in the midterms, with Democrats (and its GOP supporters) promoting the new gun control measure and Republicans pointing to the rising crime numbers in Democratic-led cities and states.

On a loosely related note, it will also be interesting to watch whether the bipartisan gun control talks lead to any more cross-party action in Congress this summer. After a moment of unity on the floor during the gun vote, some lawmakers believe the “Uvalde moment” for immigration may have arrived after 51 migrants died in San Antonio.

Other bipartisan action is possible on insulin pricing, regulating Big Tech, and a China competition bill (although that measure recently suffered a setback).

President Biden signing a bipartisan gun control bill into law. (White House)

What else should be on your radar

Those are the three topics that have grabbed the most attention this summer — and likely will continue to as the seen goes on.

But a number of other consequential political stories have also been advancing in the background. Here’s what to watch on those fronts:

Economy. Is the U.S. about to be in a recession? Or maybe it’s already in one? As economic output continues to contract — but, strangely, so does unemployment — expect to hear the “r-word” a lot this summer, despite the Fed’s best efforts. Many in Washington view a recession as inevitable and are already discussing the economic pain that’s likely to come.

Ukraine. Russia continues to slowly gain territory in Ukraine, most recently seizing the eastern Luhansk region. But both sides are beginning to show signs of waning combat capabilities as the war grinds on. Meanwhile, the U.S. is promising to back Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” while the war continues to scramble Europe’s security landscape as NATO is poised to grow and Ukraine might join the EU.

Reconciliation. After Democratic efforts to pass an economic and climate change package very publicly blew up last year, talks between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are being kept tightly under wraps. But details are beginning to dribble out on the contours of a possible deal. This month is likely the party’s last chance to pass anything, as little progress is expected once Congress leaves for its August recess.

Sen. Joe Manchin is once again engaged in reconciliation talks. (Nathan Posner / Wake Up To Politics)

Primaries. Before the 2022 midterms can get underway, there are still more primaries to get through. Upcoming contests to watch include the Missouri Republican Senate primary on August 2 and GOP primary challenges on August 16 against Wyoming Rep. (and January 6th investigator) Liz Cheney and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

2024. It’s not clear either of their partiesor most voters — want them to. But Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the two oldest and least popular chief executives in modern American history, are both gearing up to run for president again. Trump may even announce as soon as this month, although several Republicans have made clear they won’t clear the field for him. It may only be 2022, but jockeying for 2024 has already begun.

Middle East. President Biden once promised to make Saudi Arabia into a “pariah.” But he’ll be visiting Riyadh later this month, seeking to court a kingdom that is key to oil production. The president will stop in Israel on the same trip. He is due to leave on July 13.

What’s going on in Washington today

All times Eastern.

— President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am) and award the Medal of Honor, the nation’s most prestigious military decoration, to four U.S. army soldiers who fought in Vietnam (11:15 am).

Vice President Harris will start her day in Los Angeles, where she spent the weekend. She’ll travel to Chicago (12:40 pm), deliver remarks at the National Education Association’s 2022 annual meeting (5:15 pm), and then travel to Washington, D.C. (7:25 pm).  

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing (3 pm).

— The House and Senate will both convene for brief pro forma sessions, in which no business will be conducted. Such sessions are held only to satisfy their constitutional obligations of meeting once every three days.

— The Supreme Court is out of session until October.

Before I go...

I hope this newsletter gave you a good overview of the political news to watch out for this summer. But hopefully you don’t only read about politics all summer!

A WUTP reader sent in this cool article to share with all of you: recommendations for history books and novels to represent all 50 states, submitted by poets laureate, librarians, bookstore owners, and authors from across the country.

Here’s the full list, via NPR.

I hope you find something good! And if you ever come across a happier or lighter news story that you made you smile, feel free to send it my way so I can share it here.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe