Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness for Monday, 14 August 2023.
- READ TIME: 5 Minutes, 48 Seconds
- Inside the Beltway
- (1) Weiss Appointed Special Prosecutor in Hunter Biden Case
- (2) Manchin “Absolutely Considering” Leaving Democratic Party
- Domestic INTSUM
- (3) Roberts: Falling Tax Revenue is Forecasting Recession
- (4) Biden Admin Proposes Rule to Speed Up Power Line Permits
- Global SITREP
- (5) Russian Warship Fires Warning Shots in Black Sea
- (6) China Angry Over Taiwan VP Visit to U.S.
- (7) Right-Wing Candidate Leads in Argentina Election Shock
- (8) Pakistani Insurgents Attack Chinese Convoy
- (9) Ebrard: Wall Between U.S. and Mexico “Will Fall”
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
- (1) WEISS APPOINTED SPECIAL PROSECUTOR IN HUNTER BIDEN CASE: Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is already overseeing the prosecution of Hunter Biden on tax and gun charges, as Special Counsel after plea deal negotiations reached an impasse.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Weiss could not be trusted as Special Counsel after he negotiated the “sweetheart” plea deal that fell apart in court.
- House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) also said he didn’t trust Weiss because Weiss, as a prosecutor, “was the one that allowed the statute of limitations to expire on some very critical felony charges that could have been brought against Hunter Biden.”
- Why It Matters: This move will likely extend Weiss’s ongoing investigation into 2024, making it an election issue. Weiss could use his new power to obfuscate the ongoing House Republican probes into the connections between Hunter Biden’s business dealings and President Biden. Alternatively, Weiss could aggressively pursue a criminal investigation, ending in a criminal trial that pushes President Biden to end his run for 2024. – R.C.
- (2) MANCHIN “ABSOLUTELY CONSIDERING” LEAVING DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he is “absolutely considering” leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent, adding that he wants to be able to honestly speak about the “extremes of the Democrat and Republican Parties.”
- The political organization No Labels is floating Manchin and former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman as a third-party bipartisan ticket for 2024.
- Why It Matters: This is the strongest language Manchin has used to suggest he may leave the Democratic Party. Manchin has also declined to attend an event celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House this week, significant because he was a key vote for getting the Act through the Senate and even wrote parts of the bill. Manchin’s move could put his West Virginia Senate seat within reach of Republicans in 2024. He could draw votes away from President Biden’s reelection bid if he chooses to run as a third-party Independent for President. – R.C.
- (3) ROBERTS: FALLING TAX REVENUE IS FORECASTING RECESSION: RIA Advisors’ Lance Roberts points to falling government tax revenue from corporations and individuals as a reliable recession indicator.
- The annual change in federal tax revenue and economic growth is highly correlated. Since the 1950s, when the annual change in tax revenue has fallen below 2%, there’s been a recession.
- Currently, the annual change in tax revenue is at -4%, indicating that a recession is coming.
- Why It Matters: Economic data suggests that the U.S. can’t avoid a recession, which will most likely start in 2024. – H.B.
- (4) BIDEN ADMIN PROPOSES RULE TO SPEED UP POWER LINE PERMITS: A new Department of Energy (DOE) proposed rule will streamline the federal permitting process for major power transmission projects by making DOE the lead agency on reviews and shortening reviews to two years.
- Americans for a Clean Energy Grid director Christina Hayes said implementing a “one-stop-shop” for agency reviews and enforcing strict timelines could cut years off of the review process for power transmission projects.
- Why It Matters: The current review process for energy and transmission projects can take five years or more as companies have to juggle deadlines and processes with multiple agencies. Power generation capacity remains an obstacle to grid security, and viable alternatives like nuclear are not coming online fast enough to replace expected lost capacity due to the Clean Power Plan 2.0 rule expected to take effect at the end of the year. – R.C.
- (5) RUSSIAN WARSHIP FIRES WARNING SHOTS IN BLACK SEA: A Russian warship fired warning shots toward a civilian cargo ship transiting the Black Sea on Sunday. The vessel did not respond to radio calls and was headed north toward the Ukraine coast.
- This comes one day after Russia warned of severe retaliation for Ukraine’s failed attack on the Crimean bridge.
- Both Russia and Ukraine have said they would control civilian shipping in their areas of influence, including board and search operations.
- Why It Matters: Russia has the upper hand in the Black Sea since it is the only country with an active navy operating there. Expect Russia to blockade the Ukraine coast and prevent commercial shipping from transiting to and from Ukrainian ports. This may result in a continued flux in grain prices globally as the market adjusts to weaker-than-expected Ukrainian exports. – M.M.
- (6) CHINA ANGRY OVER TAIWAN VP VISIT TO U.S.: China reacted poorly to Taiwan Vice President and presidential front-runner William Lai’s visit to the U.S. on Sunday.
- China’s foreign ministry issued a terse statement saying it opposed any form of a visit by “Taiwan independence separatists” to the United States.
- The foreign ministry added that “China is closely following developments and will take resolute and vigorous measures to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
- Why It Matters: China is using specific language, like ”independence” and “separatists,” to discredit Taipei’s official relations with Washington. Those words are meant to identify Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party as the troublemaker in what would otherwise be a happy reunification process with mainland China. This modus operandi is meant to fit within the U.S. “one China” policy. Expect Beijing to focus on this track as it moves to greater coercive measures and political warfare, including covert support to the opposition Kuomintang political party, to repatriate Taiwan with the mainland. – M.M.
- (7) RIGHT-WING CANDIDATE LEADS IN ARGENTINA ELECTION SHOCK: Right-wing populist presidential candidate Javier Milei shocked political observers yesterday by narrowly securing the top spot in Argentina’s primary elections.
- Milei continued to make waves last week by promising to reject BRICS membership if he becomes president and break off ties with China “because they are communists.”
- Why It Matters: Argentina’s general election is scheduled for October and will likely head to a runoff election in November. Milei will run in a three-way race against another right-wing candidate, Patricia Bullard, and Sergia Massa, a left-wing candidate from the ruling Peronist party. Milei’s possible election would come around the time when BRICS approves Argentina’s addition to the economic alliance. Argentina last month signed an intent to purchase Indian military equipment, likely an effort to gain India’s approval to join BRICS+. Milei’s election would be a setback to BRICS. – M.S.
- (8) PAKISTANI INSURGENTS ATTACK CHINESE CONVOY: Pakistani insurgent group Balochistan Liberation Army attacked a convoy of Chinese construction workers near the southern port of Gwadar on Sunday.
- The convoy was being escorted by a Pakistani military detachment.
- There were no reported Chinese casualties, although two insurgents were allegedly killed by Pakistani military forces.
- Why It Matters: China is renewing its effort to complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a way to transport oil from the Arabian Gulf overland to China. Delays and insurgent attacks have plagued the project. Expect Beijing to pressure Islamabad to provide the necessary security to complete the project. It will likely leverage its latest round of financial assistance to ensure the required cooperation from the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment. – M.M.
- (9) EBRARD: WALL BETWEEN U.S. AND MEXICO “WILL FALL”: Former Mexican foreign minister and current leftist Morena presidential candidate Marcelo Ebrard attended a ceremony erecting a piece of the Berlin Wall next to the U.S. border wall outside Tijuana, Mexico.
- “It was placed next to the wall that separates us from the United States, which will also fall… I know those who promote the wall, their way of thinking and I know how we can handle them, how we can resist, but it is important to always have, as a primary cause, to fight for this wall to cease to exist,” Ebrard declared.
- Why It Matters: Morena is expected to announce their presidential nominee for the 2024 election early next month. Ebrard will likely finish second to former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbuam for the Morena nomination but could again become Mexico’s foreign minister. Earlier this summer, Ebrard was in Florida to build a grassroots effort to oppose border wall politics and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ 2024 primary campaign – a clear act of foreign involvement in U.S. elections but one that came and went quietly. We reported on it at the time. – M.S.
— END REPORT
M.S. indicates analyst commentary from Mike Shelby
M.M. indicates analyst commentary from Max Morton
J.V. indicates analyst commentary from Jared Vaughn
R.C. indicates analyst commentary from Robert Cook
H.B. indicates analyst commentary from Harrison Burge