The House GOP’s Newly Revealed Backchannel Comms With Trump
INSIDE: Steve Bannon ... Tim Burchett ... Glenn Youngkin
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
I wrote last week about the one-size-fits-all quality Donald Trump brings to his conspiracy theories, offering those who are trying to use their congressional powers to do his dirty work for him, like Jim Jordan, an easy template to latch onto.
This was illustrated as Jordan and other House GOPers sent the Manhattan DA’s office a series of letters demanding testimony from DA Alvin Bragg about supposed shady coordination between the DAs office and the Biden DOJ — an assertion that traced neatly back to Trump. Jordan sent the letter less than 24 hours after Trump posted on Truth Social, elevating some Deep State conspiracy theory about the Biden DOJ planting anti-Trumpers in the DA’s office.
Of course, there’s no evidence of this at all — but it gave House Republicans an easy narrative to seize and act upon. (The letter was so over-the-top misleading that Bragg’s office, which rarely speaks about this case publicly, responded to the letter with a statement saying it wouldn’t be “intimidated” by the House GOP’s various attempts to run interference for Trump.)
At the time, Democrats like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) were openly disturbed about what looked like direct coordination between the Trump team and House Republicans’ investigative priorities. Raskin told WaPo’s Greg Sargent this:
“This is an extreme move to use the resources of Congress to interfere with a criminal investigation at the state and local level and block an indictment,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, told me. He likened the aggressive GOP enforcement of absolute “impunity” for Trump to “the kind of political culture you find in authoritarian dictatorships.”
Then the New York Times reported last week that the coordination between Trump’s legal team and House Republicans might run even deeper than previously reported:
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have quietly pushed the Republican-led House to intervene. Last month, a Trump lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, wrote to Mr. Jordan calling on Congress to investigate the “egregious abuse of power” by what he called a “rogue local district attorney,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The New York Times.
That leads us to Tuesday, when CNN published an in-depth look at the extensive coordination between Trump’s team and top Republican members of Congress on issues not just tied to the House GOP’s latest attempt to probe Bragg’s investigation into Trump and the Stormy Daniels hush money payments. Donald Trump himself is not only in direct communications with influential members of the new House majority, like House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, but some House Republicans are taking it upon themselves to keep Trump personally apprised of the status of their investigations.
This bit from CNN is worth the read:
Stefanik and Trump spoke several times last week alone, where she walked him through the GOP’s plans for an aggressive response to Bragg.
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who serves on the House Oversight Committee, which is conducting a number of investigations into President Joe Biden, also speaks to Trump on a frequent basis. Both she and Stefanik have endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid and are said to be interested in serving as his running mate.
“I keep him up on everything that we’re doing,” Greene told CNN. “He seems very plugged in at all times. Sometimes I’m shocked at how he knows all these things. I’m like, ‘How do you know all this stuff?’”
Multiple sources tell CNN that Trump and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan speak regularly but declined to divulge whether those conversations included Jordan’s investigative efforts.
Take The Stand
Dominion indicated in a court filing this week that it wants some of Fox News’ most well-known figures to testify in person when the voting machine company’s defamation case goes to trial. Among those Dominion is interested in grilling IRL: hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Laura Ingraham, and Bret Baier, as well as Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott and Fox News president Jay Wallace.
The company also said that it wants to hear from Abby Grossberg, the Tucker Carlson and Maria Bartiromo show producer who sued Fox News last week arguing her employer’s attorneys tried to force her to take the blame for the network repeatedly surfacing lies about the 2020 election.
RELATED: Fox tries to stop Rupert Murdoch from testifying in person at the Dominion trial.
The supposed reason for why Murdoch can’t testify in person? The 92-year-old just got engaged and is going to be traveling more in the coming year.
ALSO: Barack Obama lays into Murdoch’s polarization of society.
Pence Must Testify
While the former Veep was granted an exemption from providing records and testifying about his official duties as president of the Senate, D.C. Chief Judge James Boasberg ruled that Pence must testify about conversations he had with Trump leading up to the insurrection.
Bannon Trolls East Palestine
Just when you thought he couldn’t get grosser!
Steve Bannon brought his grifting game to East Palestine, Ohio on Tuesday, apparently using his appearance at a town hall to go after the Biden administration, praise Trump and offer people coupons for $80 off water filtration systems from My Patriot Supply.
‘We’re Not Gonna Fix It’
This nihilistic take is brought to you by none other than Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) in response to the school shooting in his state Monday. Burchett argued that there’s nothing the government can do to stop school shootings because “criminals are gonna be criminals.”
“It’s a horrible, horrible situation,” Burchett told reporters. “And we’re not gonna fix it.”
“My daddy fought in the Second World War, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me … ‘Buddy, if somebody wants to take you out and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it,’” he added.
Burchett also argued there’s not “any real role” for Congress to play in addressing gun violence, other than to “mess things up.”
RELATED: Fear pervades Tennessee’s trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter’s gender identity
“You don’t know if (the shooter’s gender identity) is going to trigger a community of people who already hated us to come and try to shoot us to prove a point,” one trans drag performer told NBC News. “At the end of the day, there’s a lot of hurt going on, there’s a lot of anger going on, there’s a lot of confusion going on.”
“We were already fearing for our lives. Now, it’s even worse,” a trans activist said.
A juror who participated in the Oath Keeper’s trial, where four defendants were convicted of obstructing Congress last week, shared some disturbing details from the court room, including claiming that a defense attorney pushed his client, William Isaacs, who has autism, to have a breakdown on the stand.
“His defense attorney tried to get him to fall apart by yelling at him and not letting him wear his headset,” Ellen recalled. “He was torturing his client to get us to feel sympathy.”
Layers Of Nonsense
My colleague Kate Riga unpacks McCarthy’s latest bad-faith attempt to somehow pin the blame for his party’s debt ceiling hijacking on President Biden:
It’s McCarthy, not Biden, who is determined not to let the impending debt limit deadline pass without using it as leverage to get political concessions from the President. The White House has maintained that the time for such negotiations is when Congress has to pass a budget — as it did last year, and will do later this year — not when it must raise the debt ceiling to avoid sending the country into default on its debts.
Banned For Life Unless Youngkin Likes You
Gov. Glenn Youngkin quietly announced in a letter to state lawmakers last week that he is, essentially, giving himself the power to pick and choose who gets to vote and who doesn’t in Virginia moving forward. The move applies specifically to previously incarcerated individuals.
Youngkin told lawmakers that he plans to rescind former Democratic Gov. Ralph Norman’s policy of restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions once they’re released from prison and said that previously incarcerated people will only have their right to vote restored if Youngkin decides they are worthy. He said he will evaluate individuals on a case-by-case basis.
New Attack On Abortion In Idaho
Republicans in the state have come up with a new term, “abortion trafficking,” to justify the latest anti-abortion bill GOPers are pushing through the state legislature, which would ban certain residents from traveling outside of the state to receive abortion care.
House Bill 242, which passed through the state House and is likely to move quickly through the Senate, seeks to limit minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without parental consent. The legislation would create a whole new crime — dubbed “abortion trafficking” — which is defined in the bill as an “adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion … or obtains an abortion-inducing drug” for the minor. “Recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the legislation adds.
Empowering The Reactionary Minority
New York Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie offers one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive takes yet on what the GOP’s push for “parents’ rights” really means and who it is designed to embolden.
The reality of the “parents’ rights” movement is that it is meant to empower a conservative and reactionary minority of parents to dictate education and curriculums to the rest of the community. It is, in essence, an institutionalization of the heckler’s veto, in which a single parent — or any individual, really — can remove hundreds of books or shut down lessons on the basis of the political discomfort they feel. “Parents’ rights,” in other words, is when some parents have the right to dominate all the others.
Where’s Sarah Koenig?
Adnan Syed’s conviction reinstated by Maryland appellate court panel.
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On the trans community in Tennessee. I agree completely that nothing can excuse the actions of the Nashville shooter, regardless of whether or not s/he is trans. But remember that explanation is not excuse.
In considering that, consider reading--actually reading--Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It goes into heart-rending detail about how Frankenstein's creation became a monster. (I don't know how the movie(s) treat that). And consider whether an already disturbed person faced with both social and legal assaults on their very core of sense of self might react to those assaults.
It was a monster who shot those kids. If trans comes into this at all, consider what factors besides generic "mental illness' might have created the Monster. You don't have to feel sympathy. But you might consider whether blame should be shared.