Don’t Let Aileen Cannon’s Sleight Of Hand Fool You

INSIDE: Steve Bannon ... Sam Alito ... Kathy Hochul
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Slip Sliding Away …

The slow-walking of the Trump prosecutions works in two different ways. The obvious one is to push his trials past the election in the hopes he will win and use the powers of the presidency to make this all go away. The other way, less obvious, is to do the slow-walking itself so slowly that no single moment or decision can be targeted for public scorn and derision. It has the effect of keeping the pressure from building by obscuring what is happening.

So it’s important to be very clear each time that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon stalls the case again. I can’t speak to her intent, but who needs to when her actions are so clear. This week alone she has:

(1) Taken the highly unusual step of allowing third parties not involved in the case, friends of the court in the parlance, to participate in upcoming arguments over whether the case against Trump should be dismissed. This is virtually unheard of in a criminal case or anywhere outside of oral arguments at the appeals level.

(2) Reshuffled the entire pre-trial schedule on her own yet again, giving extraordinary amounts of court time to hearings, including potential evidentiary hearings, on pre-trial matters that other judges would simply rule on based on the written filings.

(3) Delayed indefinitely – but promised to reschedule at some point in the future! – a highly unusual two-day evidentiary hearing on some of Trump’s most tendentious claims.

Don’t mistake what Cannon is doing as actually moving the case forward. She is still sitting on key pre-trial decisions that need to be made and should have been made weeks or months ago. This is rearranging of the deck chairs, a shell game, shuffling things around to disguise the sleight of hand.

As all this was happening in Florida, an appeals court in Georgia put a halt to the RICO case there while it considers the appeals of Trump and his co-defendants. That case was already doomed to go into 2025, so the immediate impact was minimal, but it had the effect of pushing it out even further into the future.

‘Among The Worst Crimes A Regime Can Commit’

The NYT’s Adam Liptak on Trump’s promise to use the Justice Department to retaliate against his political foes: “But if he is already challenging bedrock norms about the justice system as a candidate, Mr. Trump, if he wins the presidency again, would gain immense authority to actually carry out the kinds of legal retribution he has been promoting.”

Bannon In The Wringer

A federal judge will hear arguments today on whether MAGA diehard Steve Bannon should go to prison immediately for his contempt of Congress conviction for having stiffed the House Jan. 6 committee.

Don’t Let The Pressure On Alito Flag!

WaPo: Alito’s account of the upside-down flag doesn’t fully add up. Here’s why.

Crazy Town

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has named two of the more extreme members of his conference – Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Ronny Jackson (R-TX) – to the House Intel Committee.

Jackson you know as the former White House physician turned right-wing crackpot. Perry has been engaged in a long-running battle over the FBI’s access to his cellphone as part of its Jan. 6 investigation. From his new perch on the intel committee, Perry will now be overseeing the FBI counterintelligence operations.

Johnson’s appointment of these two whackos reportedly blindsided Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-OH).

2024 Ephemera

  • The Trump campaign’s vetting of potential vice presidential nominees has entered the record request phase.
  • A couple of new polls are out on whether Trump’s conviction has had an impact on public opinion. The NYT re-surveyed some of its past respondents and found an infinitesimal move in Biden’s direction. But a new YouGov poll this week provides perhaps a clearer answer: The percentage of Republicans who say a convicted felon should not be president has plummeted from 58 percent in April to 23 percent now. So … there ya go.
  • Senate Republicans, forced into an awkward vote by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), blocked the advancement of a bill that would have protected access to birth control nationwide.

Another Major U.S. Climate Policy Fail

The most important news yesterday may have been New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s intervention to block a new congestion pricing plan for vehicles in NYC.

Robinson Meyer at Heatmap News was unsparing in his assessment of the wrongheadedness of the move and the long-term implications for U.S. climate policy, calling it a “generational setback”:

It is one of the worst climate policy decisions made by a Democrat at any level of government in recent memory. …

It is so bad because it will set back the development of climate-friendly cities and rapid transit infrastructure in the United States for years if not decades. And it will deter other American cities from implementing the kind of time-saving, pollution-averting, anti-gridlock measure that the country desperately needs.

There is nothing good to be said for this decision. It is bad politics, bad economics, bad governance, and bad for the climate.

For additional coverage:

  • WSJ: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Abruptly Halts Manhattan Congestion Pricing
  • Politico: House Democrats feared a New York City toll plan. Hochul reversed it.
  • WaPo: NYC had a plan to make it hard for cars to enter the city. Here’s why the governor blocked it.

Off The Charts

UPDATED: We have spent the past year way above climate norms, even by post-industrial standards. Global surface temperatures have now averaged 1.6 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels for an entire year. The 2015 Paris Agreement set the target at no more than 1.5C of warming:

80 Years Ago Today

US Troops wading through water after reaching Normandy and landing Omaha beach on D Day, 1944. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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