No, Jack Smith Isn’t Leaking All The Damning Mar-A-Lago Evidence
INSIDE: Fani Willis ... Chris Licht ... Lauren Boebert
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Where’s It Coming From?
I’ve had quite a few questions in recents weeks from lay persons and readers about the stream of revelations coming out about the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.
The short answer is that the sources of the flurry of stories we’ve seen are witnesses in the case or, more precisely, their lawyers. Trump World figures, in responding and reacting to some of the disclosures, have divulged some new information, too, but that’s been less revealing of the underlying facts than of potential defenses they might use and the public narrative they want to create.
None of the big reveals about the MAL evidence from the last few weeks bear much sign of having come from Smith, the FBI, or DOJ more broadly.
Kurt Eichenwald, the veteran investigative reporter, had a good thread on the dynamics:
As Eichenwald notes, the timing of these revelations is probably another sign that we’re nearing the end of the pre-indictment phase of the case.
Is This The Week?
The core investigative work of Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team has appeared from the outside at least to have been done for some time. Now we have the steady stream of leaks about the evidence, and a few other signals that indictments may be forthcoming:
The MAL grand jury in DC is expected to reconvene this week after a month-long hiatus, NBC News reports. This is fueling speculation that Smith is bringing the grand jury back in to issue indictments. That’s not confirmed, or even the only possible reason for the grand jury work to resume. For what it’s worth, this grand jury has typically met on Thursdays and Fridays.
CBS News’ Robert Costa had a cryptic tweet yesterday that Trump lawyers “could meet” with DOJ this week. Defense lawyers meeting with prosecutors one last time to try to stave off indictment would not be uncommon. But the vague wording of Costa’s tweet doesn’t offer much concrete to go on:
Another Recording That Is Bad For Trump In MAL Case
The drip, drip, drip of evidence in the MAL case includes new reporting from the NYT on a voice memo that Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran made about his representation of Trump that Jack Smith now has.
Trump attorneys have not found the classified document that the former president was apparently referring to on a recording made of him in 2021 that is now in the hands of Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Smith subpoenaed the document about a potential attack on Iran and related materials in March after he came into possession of the recording.
Does Trump still have the document? Did Trump already return it to the National Archives? Does the document even exist or was Trump engaging in puffery on the recording? It’s not clear.
Not Sure What To Make Of This
The WaPo had a story Friday about Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis’ criminal investigation of election interference in the 2020 election that said it “has broadened to include activities in D.C. and several states, according to two people with knowledge of the probe.”
A thread throughout the WaPo story is that Willis is pushing the bounds, overreaching with her ambition, and stretching the state’s RICO statute in what the paper calls her “ever-widening scope.” I’m not sure what that criticism is based on at this point, since very little is known about her theory of the case.
It’s not even clear to me from the WaPo article whether Willis is really broadening the scope of her probe to other states or is merely seeking evidence in other states to tie up loose ends and firm up her narrative of the case.
DOJ Closes Pence Classified Doc Probe
The Justice Department notified former Vice President Mike Pence last week that it has closed its investigation of his improper retention of classified materials without bringing charges.
Pence, who is launching his presidential campaign Wednesday, was never expected to be charged. He had initiated a search of his own home for such materials after the Mar-a-Lago classified docs investigation blew open and President Biden’s lawyers had found classified documents at Biden’s home and DC think tank. Pence voluntary turned over the documents and otherwise cooperated with the investigation.
No More Screen Time For You!
Secret Service agents missed the intruder entering and leaving the DC home of Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in part because they were distracted by their personal phones, CNN reports.
Fighter Jets Scrambled Over DC
In an incident that has many of the hallmarks of cabin depressurization, a wayward private plane flew through restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., Sunday afternoon, forcing fighter jets from Joint Base Andrews and two other military bases to scramble to intercept it. The pilot of the plane was non-responsive, and it eventually crashed in rural Virginia. President Biden was playing golf at Andrews around the time of the incident. A Florida businessman listed as owner of the plane told news outlets that his daughter and granddaughter were among those aboard. The wreckage of the plane was found late Sunday. There were no survivors.
Tim Alberta’s devastating profile of CNN CEO Chris Licht confirms most of the suspicions about the cable news net’s lurch to the center.
Tennessee Drag Ban Unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled Tennessee’s drag show ban an unconstitutionally vague affront to the First Amendment.
Another Migrant Relocation Stunt?
Under circumstances that remain very murky, a group of about 16 migrants were taken from Texas to New Mexico and then flown by private chartered plane to Sacramento and left at a church there, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
You’ll recall last year’s stunt by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in which the state took migrants from Texas and flew them to Martha’s Vineyard and dumped them there with no support.
One potential wrinkle of note in the Sacramento case: California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the migrants were “in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida.”
Quote Of The Week
Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang:
There was an exchange on Twitter a while back where someone said, “What is artificial intelligence?” And someone else said, “A poor choice of words in 1954.” And, you know, they’re right. I think that if we had chosen a different phrase for it, back in the ’50s, we might have avoided a lot of the confusion that we’re having now.
I Love This So Much
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) put out a video claiming she refused to cast a vote on the debt ceiling package last week as a “protest” – but here’s video of her racing up the steps of Capitol the night of the vote and being told by a CNN producer that the vote had already closed:
Elon Musk’s Twitter adding a fact-check to the Boebert tweet is the cherry on top.