Trump Caught On Tape Again Pressuring Election Officials
INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Rudy G ... Adrian Fontes
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
What’s Up This Trump Recording?
An intriguing new development as the Detroit News has unearthed four recordings of parts of a Nov. 17, 2020 phone call between Donald Trump and two GOP canvassers in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.
The existence of the call was already known and widely reported. It was not previously known that anyone had recorded the call. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel was also on the call, the recordings reveal.
The two canvassers were at the center of one especially controversial post-election gambit when they refused to certify the Wayne County vote, before quickly backtracking. Their refusal threatened to keep the Democratic stronghold’s votes from being included in the statewide total and could have flipped the state’s presidential vote to Trump.
The key passage from the Detroit News story:
“We’ve got to fight for our country,” said Trump on the recordings, made by a person who was present for the call with Palmer and Hartmann. “We can’t let these people take our country away from us.”
McDaniel, a Michigan native and the leader of the Republican Party nationally, said at another point in the call, “If you can go home tonight, do not sign it. … We will get you attorneys.”
To which Trump added: “We’ll take care of that.”
A fair bit of commentary overnight about whether that offer of legal counsel amounted to a criminal attempt at bribery. I’m not prepared to assert that quite yet, but there’s no doubt that having a recording of the phone call, as with the famous Trump call the following month to Georgia election officials, changes the texture and impact of what we previously knew about Trump’s intervention in Michigan, where a prosecution of Trump fake electors is already underway.
The only point I’d add to what Greg Sargent has to say here is that dismissing the 14th Amendment argument as a Democratic wet dream ignores that some of the leading advocates for invoking the Disqualification Clause were not so long ago leading lights of the conservative legal movement, like former Judge Michael Luttig.
One other point that Greg touches on that’s worth amplifying. Among its many faults, the NYT piece glosses over the fact that Trump was defeated at the ballot box in 2020, which tends to undermine the entire premise of the piece: that Democrats are looking for a “magical cure-all.”
What Smart SCOTUS Watchers Are Saying
A fundamentally conservative court, with a six-justice majority of Republican appointees that includes three named by Mr. Trump himself, has not been particularly receptive to his arguments.
Indeed, the Trump administration had the worst Supreme Court record of any since at least the Roosevelt administration, according to data developed by Lee Epstein and Rebecca L. Brown, law professors at the University of Southern California, for an article in Presidential Studies Quarterly.
The two stories—political corruption and political cases—are so inextricably connected that one almost wants to weep at the rate at which they have been force-multiplied as disasters in the making in a matter of weeks, and not because the press is out to discredit the high court, but because the court has been so hellbent on discrediting itself and then refusing to cop to it. It’s the political and financial dirty work of two decades, coming to light in the span of one year, that the court has brought on itself at the moment in which it should have been beyond reproach. …
For years, some of the most vocal critics of the court’s ethical lapses, its lack of transparency, and its refusals to take seriously its own brokenness and errors, have warned that the day would come when an election would be decided by a body that has refused to clean house and has blamed the press and the academy for the stench of its own illegitimacy. The worry wasn’t that the court would decide the election; that seems almost inevitable. The worry was that the public, grown weary of the stench, would not abide by their decision.
Still Unpacking The Colorado DQ Decision
George Conway: The Colorado Ruling Changed My Mind
Roger Parloff is an indispensable and thoughtful observer:
Originalism, Textualism, and Federalism
Charlie Savage: “Two doctrines favored by the conservative supermajority – textualism and originalism – could play a crucial role in any decision by the justices on whether to keep Donald Trump on the ballot.”
Kimberly Wehle: The Colorado Supreme Court Decision Is True Originalism
Jack Smith Implores SCOTUS To Take Immunity Case
Special Counsel Jack Smith took his final shot at persuading the Supreme Court to immediately take up Donald Trump’s claim of absolute presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. Look for a decision from the Supreme Court on whether to take the case as soon as today.
Trump May Make Another Play For Immunity
Keep An Eye On the Mar-a-Lago Case
Rudy G Goes The Bankruptcy Route
Rudy Giuliani’s bankruptcy won’t discharge the $148 million defamation judgment against him, but it will make for a more tedious and protracted process for Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss to collect.
Quote Of The Day
Charlie Kirk doesn’t know shit about Arizona’s election. … Charlie Kirk is a grifter, who only stirs the pot for his own profit. And what he’s doing is eroding the trust that Americans have in one another. That’s his MO and he’s free to do that under the First Amendment. But he’s not paying any of the price and the consequences. He personally is shielded in his privilege, from the erosion of our democracy, from the lack of trust, and the fact that we’ve lost a lot of people because of the threats that his rhetoric brings to bear. So I think he should reconsider. Maybe potentially just supporting his assertions with some facts, that might be a good start.
Bogus Wisconsin Impeachment Effort Wanes
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos now says the impeachment of Justice Janet Protasiewicz is “super unlikely.”
Hate To See It
Daily Beast: The NRA Is at Rock Bottom—And 15 Years of Tax Filings Tell the Story
I’ll mostly be around next week, but for those who aren’t, enjoy your time away and see you in the new year!
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