Trump’s Criming Makes 2024 Impossible To Predict
INSIDE: Ron DeSantis ... Stewart Rhodes ... Tina Turner
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Throw Out All The Tired Old Analysis
Let me get this out of the way first. As we sit here 18 months before the next presidential election, I think the most likely scenario is we get a 2020 rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. If that does come to pass, I imagine everyone will be like “Duh!” of course this was easy to see coming, and all of the uncertainty and unpredictability we currently face will get flattened into a veneer of inevitability.
But there is so much ahead between now and then, so many potential twists and turns, that the most difficult thing may be just keeping all of the many possibilities in play and not rushing to make predictions or declare outcomes to be certain that are in fact highly uncertain.
The most obvious uncertainty that we still tend to gloss over is simple mortality. Macabre as it may be, Biden and Trump are a combined 156 years old. Nothing is guaranteed.
The second most obvious uncertainty is no ex-president in the modern era (since the emergence of the presidential primary system in the 1970s) has sought to regain the office. Only a handful of presidents in history have attempted to return to the office they once lost, and only Grover Cleveland succeeded in serving non-consecutive terms.
But let’s get into what is most fascinating: Trump is under indictment! He’s set for criminal trial in Manhattan during the 2024 primary season. He faces the serious threat of another imminent indictment in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. By August, he seems reasonably likely to be under some form of RICO-like indictment in Georgia. He is also confronting a sprawling, dynamic, unpredictable special counsel investigation into his efforts to overturn the last election that includes a serious financial crimes component.
We’ve never been in such a situation, with a major party candidate under criminal indictment – sorry, criminal trial! – during his campaign. Let alone one who is also an ex-president. Ever. Period. Full stop.
But I can take it even a step farther. Trump is facing the possibility of not just additional criminal charges with real jail time potential but highly serious ones that would be historically significant and the nature of which are core to serving as president. In short, these aren’t Spiro Agnew-style tax evasion charges that pre-date his time in office.
Trump could be facing Espionage Act charges in the Mar-a-Lago case (it’s right there in the Mar-a-Lago search warrant). Another potential charge in the MAL case carries the penalty of disqualification from office (separate and apart from the 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause, which I won’t deal with here). The Jan. 6 investigation could yield seditious conspiracy charges against Trump that mirror and build upon the successful seditious conspiracy convictions of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys. And even the Stormy Daniels hush money case is at its heart about cheating to win election to the White House in the first place.
I want to super clear: These aren’t predictions, but they’re very much within the realm of the possible given what we know publicly about the state of play in these investigations. How the usual rules of political analysis apply in the current situation is simply beyond me. Yet most of the political analysis I see remains stuck in a way of parsing and measuring political support and campaign effectiveness that speaks to a different time. Not the present time.
Assessing the 2024 election requires an almost superhuman ability to keep myriad possibilities in play, to resist falling into old patterns that no longer exist, to embrace and even celebrate the uncertainty and unpredictability. The temptation will be to begin to make assumptions that pretend to nail down some of the variables, so that political analysis in the old style is even possible.
Open yourself to the possibilities! Be patient! This isn’t a good cycle to be a bettor or prognosticator.
Another 2024 Wild Card
DHS warns of attacks against government buildings and minority groups ahead of the 2024 election.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) launched his campaign alongside Elon Musk like an exploding SpaceX rocket:
How it was covered:
TPM’s Josh Marshall: Meatball Ron’s Sad Discord Chat
Fox News promises not to crash during interview with DeSantis.
NYT: Five Takeaways From a Rocky 2024 Debut
Debt Ceiling Deadline Approaches
Keep Your Eye On The Mar-A-Lago Case
I’ve been calling the Mar-a-Lago indictments “imminent,” meaning that there’s no obvious impediment or remaining investigative hurdles to be overcome, and that internally here at TPM we’re prepared for them to come at any time. But I should note one data point in the other direction. CNN reports:
Defense attorneys sometimes meet with prosecutors when a charging decision is imminent. But sources familiar with the probes told CNN that Smith has not informed Trump’s attorneys that he is close to such a decision.
Some other data points:
Harry Litman: The DOJ’s classified documents probe may wrap up soon. Here’s why Trump should worry
Neal Katyal: Jack Smith investigation is “Trump’s worst nightmare”:
Stewart Rhodes To Be Sentenced Today
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes will be sentenced for his seditious conspiracy conviction in the Jan. 6 attack this morning in federal court in DC. Watch for TPM’s live blog of the sentencing hearing.
Park Police Used Excessive Force Against Journalists
An inspector general’s report found U.S. Park Police used excessive force against two Australian journalists while infamously clearing area around the White House of Black Lives Matters protestors in the summer of 2020.
You’ll recall the scene:
Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Guy
Republican on Republican action in Texas suddenly has Attorney General Ken Paxson on the defensive in major way:
TPM’s Josh Kovensky: Five Points On Ken Paxton’s Time In the Barrel
TPM’s Josh Marshall: Popcorn Alert! Texas Rolls Out Epic GOP-on-GOP Shit Show
RIP Tina Turner
I was reminded again yesterday how late in life Tina Turner’s peak popularity came. She was in her mid-40s when Private Dancer came out in 1984. By that point, she had been recording for some 25 years. Below are a couple of samples from that earlier period (both I think from 1970). I wanted something without Ike, but these two samples – one with Ike, one with glimpses of Mick Jagger – show that while her pre-solo career was marred by Ike’s controlling and abusive behavior, she was never in anyone’s shadow: