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Trump’s Arraignment Caps A Wild Ride For DOJ
INSIDE: Jack Smith ... E. Jean Carroll ... MTG
A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Imagine being one of the thousands of DOJ attorneys slogging away on criminal, civil and appeal cases over the last, say, five years:
You’ve had Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr as your ultimate boss.
You narrowly avoided a decapitation event where one Jeffrey Clark — “You're an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we'll call you when there's an oil spill." — became attorney general.
You went to work knowing Bill Barr was meddling in criminal cases, even in ones that had already won convictions.
You had a run-amok Special Counsel John Durham at Barr’s behest targeting DOJ itself.
You knew in your bones that the usual firewall between DOJ and the White House was in ruins.
And after all that came the whiplash of Donald Trump sitting in a federal court yesterday being arraigned on Espionage Act charges, with Special Counsel Jack Smith observing him from the front row.
These people have been through a lot, y’all.
A Dispatch From Inside The Courtroom
LawFare’s Anna Bower waited in line for 27 hours to get a seat in the courtroom for Trump’s arraignment. Read her report.
DOJ Is Actually Taking It Easy On Trump
As you listen to the continuous GOP uproar over the unfair, disparate, and unequal treatment Trump is receiving, remember that it’s true … but in the completely opposite direction:
NY Mag: The DOJ Tried to Give Trump a Pass. He Wouldn’t Take It.
In January of last year, in response to a subpoena, Trump returned 197 classified documents to the federal government. Despite his willfully retaining those documents for months, the federal indictment released last week does not charge Trump in connection with any of them — which is to say, the DOJ gave Trump a pass on 197 potential counts of willful retention of national defense information. Instead, it charged him with only 31 counts corresponding with the number of highly classified documents Trump knowingly withheld from the government in January 2022 and the FBI later obtained.
DOJ recommended extraordinarily lenient conditions for Trump’s pre-trial release from custody: no bail, no travel restrictions (including no surrender of his passport), and he may still interact and communicate with witnesses in the case (though the judge ordered that he may not discuss the case itself with them …).
The point isn’t to knock DOJ. These are arguably appropriate measures of deference to the Trump’s unusual status as a former president. But they give lie to the Deep State nonsense Trump World is spouting.
Dip Into The Madness For A Moment
On occasion it’s worth your while to check in on what Trump is saying in these long, rambling, self-indulgent speeches of his. Aaron is so good at putting these video threads together. It makes it quick and easy to get a taste:
Last night’s speech – carried live by FOX but not by MSNBC or CNN – included:
Trump again vowing to appoint a “real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden and the entire Biden crime family.”
Trump again attacking Special Counsel Jack Smith’s wife;
Trump accusing the FBI of staging the photos in the indictment;
Trump again declaring the documents to be his own under the Presidential Records Act.
Just another day at the office.
Former Trump White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Trump’s public bravado in the face of criminal charges:
He’s scared s—less. This is the way he compensates for that. He gives people the appearance he doesn’t care by doing this. For the first time in his life, it looks like he’s being held accountable. Up until this point in his life, it’s like, I’m not going to pay you, take me to court. He’s never been held accountable before.
Keep An Eye On Bedminster
Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann: Donald Trump was indicted in Florida. Could he also face charges in New Jersey?
While Trump was being arraigned in Miami, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 investigation kept cruising along. Spotted in the area of the DC federal courthouse where Smith’s Jan. 6 grand jury meets: two Nevada fake electors.
The two men were Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald and Vice Chair Jim DeGraffenreid.
Fox News Is Unchastened And Unbowed
I’m sorry but in this instance Fox News fomenting civil war actually made me laugh:
Biden Is So Inside Their Heads
The marvel of the moment for me is how Joe Biden can simultaneously be:
A doddering old man but also running the most corrupt crime family in the history of the universe;
Barely able to stay upright on his own two feet but an evil genius who has orchestrated a vast conspiracy with the Deep State to take down his chief political rival;
Inept and bungling but somehow managed to defeat the incumbent MAGA president, haul the United States into Marxism, and seize dictatorial powers.
This Biden guy is pretty amazing when you think about it.
Thanks, Chris Licht!
The now-notorious CNN “townhall” with Trump that hastened the end of Chris Licht’s tenure as CEO of the cable news net has also led to a new defamation claim against Trump by E. Jean Carroll.
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Carroll can amend her original defamation lawsuit to include remarks made during the televised CNN event.
Michigan GOP Chair Sanctioned By Judge
Amid all the judicial sanctions being handed out for frivolous lawsuits over the 2020 election, what jumps out about this case is that the judge is sanctioning the Michigan GOP chair and the party’s lawyer for a bogus lawsuit about the 2022 election. Way to distinguish yourselves!
Republicans in Disarray
David Dayen catches us up on the House GOP’s internecine budget battle:
The important thing here is that the goals of reducing spending below the non-defense caps, above the defense caps, and having that be something Senate Democrats will pass and the president will sign are irreconcilable. McCarthy is being implicitly threatened with his speakership if he doesn’t hold to lower spending. McConnell, meanwhile, is getting enormous pressure from the lobbying blob to plus-up military budgets.
All of that points to stopgap funding to prevent an October 1 government shutdown, if the votes can be found. That would render all the work on the debt ceiling spending caps rather meaningless, especially if a continuing resolution to fund the government were to persist. That said, a shutdown is a definite possibility given all the chaos.
The first 40 seconds are mesmerizing, then it gets really cool: