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Trump: You Can’t Put Me On Trial While I’m POTUS, Or Now, Or Ever
INSIDE: Fani Willis ... Ray Epps ... Tommy Tuberville
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Too Bad For You, America!
A series of pre-trial developments in the Mar-a-Lago case culminated in a late-night filing in which former President Donald Trump sought to have his trial postponed indefinitely.
Some of the filing is the usual defense counsel performative moaning and groaning and sighing heavily about all the work involved and the inherent advantages prosecutors have over them because they’ve long had access to the evidence, blah blah blah. To that end, Trump wants U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to:
withdraw her order for an August 2023 trial;
reject DOJ’s proposal for a December 2023 trial; and
postpone indefinitely even setting a trial date.
But there’s more than the usual slow-rolling going on here. And it matters to the big question of whether Cannon can and will keep the Mar-a-Lago case on track for a trial before the 2024 presidential election.
Trump’s claims in this regard are remarkable:
He’s too busy running for president to be put on trial.
He’s too busy with other criminal and civil trials to add this one to the calendar.
He’s still trying to make the case about the Presidential Records Act (it’s not).
“There is no ongoing threat to national security interests nor any concern regarding continued criminal activity.”
You can’t find an impartial jury in the midst of a presidential election.
The overall thrust of the filing by Trump is that a trial before the election is not advisable, though it stops short of saying so explicitly.
The ball in now in Cannon’s court. More on that in a moment.
What Else Happened In The MAL Case
Trump’s late-night filing came after a day of maneuvering by the defense team to delay and drag out the proceedings. In this respect, Trump co-defendant Walt Nauta is a stalking horse for Trump.
Nauta’s protracted effort to find local counsel in Florida delayed his arraignment in mostly insignificant ways (though all the delays eventually add up), but Nauta is now using the fact that he has new counsel as justification for delaying the initial pre-trial hearing in the case, scheduled for July 14. Nauta raised all kinds of other objections to holding the pre-trial hearing this week, including one of his lawyer’s involvement in an ongoing trial back in DC.
DOJ was ready for any attempt to delay the proceedings, and quickly objected. (In a weird sidenote to all this, the judge in the DC case Nauta lawyer Stan Woodward is involved in right now said in open court that his chambers had heard from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s chambers about his trial schedule, presumably as she searched for a suitable new date for the pre-trial hearing.) DOJ also complained that Woodward was misrepresenting prior conversations between himself and prosecutors.
Confused? Don’t worry. In a filing later in the day, defense attorneys said they reached an agreement with DOJ that the pre-trial hearing can be pushed to July 18, when Woodward is not in trial. Judge Cannon still must sign off on that agreement, but it looks likely to be resolved with minimal additional delay.
What’s Next In The MAL Case?
All eyes are on U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to see if she plays ball with Trump’s delay tactics or takes steps to keep the case on track.
The first thing we should expect from Cannon is a ruling on whether to move the pretrial hearing and if so to when.
The bigger question is what she will do about the trial date: DOJ wants an aggressive December 2023 trial, and Trump wants no trial date. Not just where she lands but how she gets there could be crucial in determining whether this case goes to trial before the presidential election.
I expect we will get a ruling on rescheduling the pretrial hearing as soon as today. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t look for a decision from her on a trial date until she’s heard from both sides again at the pretrial hearing, whenever that ultimately happens but probably next Tuesday.
Fani Willis Is Getting Her Real Grand Jury
The Georgia grand jury that will likely consider criminal charges against Donald Trump for his efforts to interfere in the state’s 2020 election is being seated today in Atlanta.
I Need Your Feedback
How much do you want Morning Memo covering the procedural ins and outs of the Trump prosecutions?
Too much of that coverage I find boring, to be honest. But eschewing all of it risks the narrative become fractured and misleading.
So I’m shooting for a balance: Alerting you to significant developments and trying to succinctly explain things that are either inherently confusing or that have been muddled in the larger coverage.
Let me know how that suits you (email address at the bottom of Morning Memo).
The whacked-out former president is wildly decompensating:
DOJ Moves At High Speed In Social Media Case
Within a couple of hours of a Trump judge in Louisiana handing the Justice Department a defeat, it sought emergency relief from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal to pause the judge’s extraordinary injunction blocking several segments of the federal government from contacting social media platforms about mis- and disinformation.
Fox’s Next Dominion Disaster?
Ray Epps is reportedly gearing up to file a defamation lawsuit against Fox News after being vilified by Tucker Carlson on air for more than 18 months in nearly 20 episodes, the NYT reports.
Cough It Up!
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been ordered by a state judge in New York to pay nearly half a million dollars to his former lawyers for overdue and unpaid legal fees
The Dominance Space
Elon Musk’s Twitter is now a place centered on performative supremacy, Philip Bump notes, which partly explains why right-wingers need for social media platforms with broad appeal to exist. They need opponents: “Musk has attained dominance and offers it to you for only $8 a month — at least until everyone who isn’t interested in using social media primarily to bolster their self-esteem has left for less annoying pastures.”
Help Increase Our Thread Count!
We’re giving the new Threads a shot. It doesn’t have some of Twitter’s most useful tools yet (lists, please, and desktop functionality!), but a lot of you are flocking there. You can find me here. And TPM here.
The New Normal
Even White Nationalists Must Be Laughing
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), not known as the smartest guy in the Senate, doesn’t seem to know the difference between the quiet part and the loud part. Or the meaning of words. Or that “white nationalist” doesn’t mean a patriot who happens to be white.
Correction: MM originally gave conflicting information about DOJ's proposed trial date for the Mar-a-Lago case: It proposed December 2023. My apologies for the confusion.