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NBC just moved this story: RON DESANTIS’ DONORS AND ALLIES QUESTION IF HE’S READY FOR 2024. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that this is becoming an example of the kind of press groupthink we often, very rightly, view with disdain. But it’s still remarkable how quickly many of DeSantis’s biggest backers, or most significant potential backers, have decided he’s not ready for prime time. The piece is based on comments by, interviews with and reports about a range of GOP bigwigs. But it largely focuses on the GOP megadonors who increasingly dominate GOP campaigns as the GOP small-donor world has atrophied. They’re talking about taking a “pause,” pumping the “brakes.” It’s embarrassing and frankly humiliating for DeSantis, who has experienced several such dignity-draining moments of late. But this is all a product of the last two weeks. It’s a rapid shift in conventional wisdom that is driven in large part by groupthink. It’s like a run on the National Bank of DeSantis. The difference is that, in this case, it’s a rapid shift in the direction of a more realistic take on DeSantis’s prospects.
One thing to consider as we watch Ron DeSantis’s campaign get started is just who is for him. Or perhaps there’s a better way to put it: Is anyone for him? My point here isn’t aggregate support. Polls suggest he currently has the support of between a quarter and a third of GOP primary voters. That’s a lot. But here I mean support in a more visible sense — among party and political elites, in the media, among fellow elected officials.
The day has come. Donald Trump returned to Facebook. Elon Musk has invited him to come back to Twitter, and we can only assume he will do so as imminently as his Truth Social agreement allows. And, now, the big man is making his Fox News comeback.
As Nicole LaFond explains in today’s Morning Memo (David Kurtz is on vacation), Ron DeSantis has got his first big fumble in his presidential roll out. He staked out an aggressively anti-Ukraine position on the conflict and American involvement in that conflict, going as far as to label it a “territorial dispute” and suggest no real U.S. interests at stake. This is in line with most Republicans in the Trump wing of the party and not surprising. But he got major pushback from a number of Senate Republicans and GOP foreign policy hands. So he shifted gears, now saying that the Russian invasion is really pretty bad after all, identifying Putin as a “war criminal” who must be “held accountable.” As Nicole notes, this is grist for Trump’s virtuoso taunting and pillorying. He commits the ultimate sin in the Trump GOP — admitting error, retreating rather than going on the offensive. Trump can do that. Because he’s Trump. But no one else can.
Insider is reporting that while the New York City grand jury dealing with the Trump “hush money” case is meeting today, it won’t be working on the Trump case. That means nothing new is likely to happen in the case until Monday at the earliest. (The grand jury has been meeting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Grand juries routinely work on multiple cases at once.) What does this mean? I have no idea. Assuming the Insider report is correct, my best guess is that the reporting predicting an imminent indictment is still broadly correct. It was just off on the day it would happen, helped along in large part by Trump’s claim that he would be “arrested” Tuesday, March 21. That’s my pretty strong assumption: That there is still going to be a New York City indictment. But really who knows?
There’s a dark coda to one of the latest tales in the legend of Rep. George Santos (R-NY). As you will remember, a good bit of December and January were taken up by the ongoing saga of Santos and the slow unraveling of a life made up of a long litany of fabrications and criminal behavior. One of the last big stories to come out on Santos was about his alleged role as a mastermind of an ATM fraud ring in Seattle, allegedly working with a one-time roommate named Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha.
Trelha was arrested for running the fraud scheme in 2017. Santos was questioned by investigators probing the scheme and he later testified on Ribeiro’s behalf. Trelha eventually pled guilty, served seven months in jail and was deported to Brazil in early 2018. Once Santos became an international sensation, Trelha came forward to submit a sworn declaration to federal authorities changing his story and now accusing Santos of being the mastermind of the fake ATM card racket.
As that money dries up, state lawmakers are grasping for cheaper and more extreme alternatives to demonstrate how tough they are on immigration.
The Texas lawmaker sponsoring a sweeping effort to give the state unprecedented new powers to enforce the border says that his proposal is about a few things only: fentanyl, the cartels, and saving money.