Donald Trump Suffers Major Setback In Jan. 6 Investigation
INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Stormy Daniels ... Janet Protasiewicz
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
What A Moment
Yesterday’s events had me recalling the indelible scene at the end of All The President’s Men, with Nixon being sworn in to a second term while Woodward and Bernstein clack away on their typewriters with the stories that will lead to his resignation some 18 months later.
With all eyes glued to the circus atmosphere outside the courthouse in Manhattan ahead of Donald Trump’s early afternoon arraignment on state charges in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, a separate midday sealed court ruling in Washington, D.C., served as reminder of the multiple layers of legal jeopardy the former president faces.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals declined Trump’s reported request to intervene on an emergency basis and block the imminent grand jury testimony of several former Trump administration officials in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 investigation.
Trump is apparently appealing a March 15 order from U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, at the time the chief judge in DC, that rejected his executive privilege arguments to block his former aides’ testimony. Trump’s lawyers were reportedly in court Monday trying to convince U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, Howell’s successor as chief judge (who oversees grand jury proceedings like this one) to stay the order while they appealed. Apparently they lost that argument, resulting in the emergency appeal.
The appeals court ruling came after a flurry of late night filings Monday, all under seal so we have very little visibility into the actual arguments or which aides it involved. So all of the reporting around this development is necessarily hedged and uncertain.
But based on reporting, primarily from CNN and ABC News, the grand jury testimony at issue appears to involve former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, Trump White House advisers Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and former Homeland Security acting secretary Ken Cuccinelli. Some or all of those witnesses may have already testified before the grand jury but invoked executive privilege to refuse to answer certain questions.
The three-judge panel that denied the emergency motion included Obama appointees Patricia Millett and Robert Wilkins and Trump appointee Greg Katsas. Early reporting indicates Trump will not appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court.
It appears that Trump’s broader appeal is still pending – the appeals court only denied his emergency motion – but in a sign of how quickly things are moving, Cuccinelli was brought back before the grand jury Tuesday afternoon after the appeals court decision, CNN reported. So the practical effect may be that Trump has lost his most plausible executive privilege claims.
What An Amazing Scandal!
Step back for a moment and marvel at what an amazing scandal the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme is.
Come on! In any other era, this would be awesome!
Only because of the passage of time and the subsequent TWO impeachments and failed coup does this scandal seem tepid. But judge it by pre-2017 standards and it’s amazing! The toxic stew of sex AND money AND power AND coverup. What more could you want?
You have the country’s leading tabloid mag conspiring with the GOP nominee for president to bury negative stories about him, including an apparently debunked claim from his doorman that he fathered a child out of wedlock, a disputed claim of a one-night stand with a porn star that cost him $130,000, and a contested claim that he had an affair with a Playboy playmate.
It’s 100% bonkers on its face!
Is You Takin’ Notes On A Criminal Fuckin’ Conspiracy?
My favorite reveals from yesterday were how lame and ineffectual the coverup was.
They were writing checks. Checks! It’s all traceable. It’s all evidence now in the criminal case.
At one point, we learned yesterday, Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg allegedly jotted down the particulars of the agreement to reimburse Michael Cohen for his hush money payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf.
HE WROTE IT DOWN!
Prosecutors appear to have the document with those notes, according to the statement of facts filed in the case: “The TO CFO [Weisselberg] memorialized these calculations in handwritten notes on the copy of the bank statement that Lawyer A [Cohen] had provided.”
You know what Stringer Bell would say about this.
Trump Rails Against All The Prosecutors Investigating Him
TPM’s Hunter Walker watched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago speech last night for you.
What Are The Odds?
Donald Trump’s next in-person appearance in the Manhattan criminal case isn’t scheduled to happen until December (with trial sometime early next year). I find it almost impossible to imagine that he doesn’t get hauled in before then to account for threatening remarks and incitements to violence, forcing the the judge to consider a gag order in the case.
Around the same time former President Trump was pleading not guilty in Manhattan in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Daniels to pay nearly $122,000 in legal fees to Trump’s attorneys in her failed libel suit.
Janet Protasiewicz Wins In Wisconsion
A huge win for abortion rights with national implications in the most closely watched race of 2023.
‘We’ll Cut Your Throats. We’ll Put A Bullet In Your Head.’
A Maryland man allegedly left a voicemail at the DC office of Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBT advocacy group, threatening to “slaughter” them in apparent retaliation for the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, where the shooter was a transgender person. The man was arrested by the FBI and is facing federal charges.
‘I Agree That They’re Overalls’
A sample of TPMer Josh Kovensky’s reporting from outside the Manhattan courthouse before Trump’s arraignment:
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I keep wondering, though I'm not following this particular issue very closely: Is there ANY actual evidence (besides the cop's statement) showing that the Nashville shooter was trans other than her use of pronouns? If there is, could someone point me to it?