A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
The Only Judge Donald Trump Doesn’t Criticize
A series of developments in the Mar-a-Lago case over the last 24 hours don’t bode well for the rule of law in general or the prosecution of Donald Trump for blatant mishandling of classified information in particular.
In a hearing on Trump’s request for a trial delay, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon signaled that she was open to pushing back the trial date from May 2024. She promised to issue a revised schedule as soon as possible. As of this morning, she hasn’t ruled yet. Delay until he can win re-election and make all this go away is the core of Trump’s defense strategy, which isn’t a legal strategy at all but rather a political one.
But fresh off that apparent victory, Trump may have gotten too cute by half. In the afternoon hearing, he argued to Cannon that she should delay the Mar-a-Lago trial because the Jan. 6 case against him in DC scheduled for March 2024 posed a schedule conflict. But later in the day, he filed a new motion in the DC case seeking to put it entirely on pause until his claims of absolute presidential immunity are resolved.
Get it? He told one judge that he can’t possibly go to trial in Florida in May because he has a trial in DC in March, then turned around and tried to delay the DC trial, too.
Special Counsel Jack Smith seized on Trump’s rope-a-dope and flagged it to Cannon in a filing early this morning, urging her not to allow herself “to be manipulated in this fashion.”
Disqualification Clause Watch
- Colorado: Judge denies Trump motion to dismiss in Disqualification Clause case
- Colorado: “The effort to ban former President Donald Trump from the ballot under the Constitution’s “insurrection clause” turned to distant history on Wednesday, when a law professor testified about how the post-Civil War provision was indeed intended to apply to presidential candidates.”
- Minnesota: Oral arguments begin today in Disqualification Clause case against Trump
I’m Glad Someone Finally Did This
Aaron Blake debunks Donald Trump’s go-to claim that prosecutors timed their indictments of him to interfere with his presidential campaign, the comical implication being that Trump would have been fiiine with the prosecutions if they had come sooner.
What To Make Of Jenna Ellis’ Guilty Plea In Georgia?
Circling back on the implications of Jenna Ellis pleading guilty last week in the Georgia RICO case:
- Norman Eisen and Amy Lee Copeland: Jenna Ellis Could Become a Star Witness Against Trump
- Ellis’ lawyer talked about the guilty plea on a legal podcast hosted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It’s an interesting account of how the plea agreement came together, but I was struck by what he had to say about Rudy Giuliani:
Asked if Giuliani, who is charged with RICO and 12 other counts, should be worried, Hogue said, “I think he should be.”
But not necessarily because of Ellis, Hogue said. “I think there’s enough for Mayor Giuliani to worry about that wouldn’t have anything to do with Jenna Ellis. I mean, she wouldn’t be a help to him, I don’t think, if she was to be called as a witness. But I think his troubles extend far beyond her.”
GOP Is Rationalizing Cruelty Toward Gaza
Will Saletan looks at what the GOP presidential candidates told the Republican Jewish Coalition over the weekend:
What the Republican candidates are advocating, in sum, is an abandonment of morals. They’re rationalizing bigotry and cruelty—withholding humanitarian aid, barring child refugees, bombing Gaza without limits—and they’re grounding America’s loyalty to Israel in Jewish and Christian scripture. This isn’t the way to build an alliance against terrorism. It’s the way to feed a religious war.
It’s not just the GOP’s presidential candidates. Here’s Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) on the House floor:
Senate GOP Fed Up With Tuberville
Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s long-running and unprecedented blockade of President Biden’s military nominees over abortion politics finally hit the limit for Senate Republicans Wednesday night.
Using antiquated Senate rules (for which the Senate has itself to blame), Tuberville has blocked hundreds of military promotions since February to protest the Pentagon policy that reimburses service members for travel expenses where abortions are difficult to obtain.
- WaPo: Senate Republicans erupt in anger over Tuberville’s military freeze
On Wednesday night, a remarkable scene unfolded on the Senate floor as several Republicans, including Sens. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa) Todd C. Young (Ind.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) confronted Tuberville, imploring him to lift his hold for the sake of national security and proposing votes on individual officers whose promotions have been delayed. Tuberville rebuffed them one by one, blocking each proposed nominee as his colleagues’ frustration continued to rise.
- AP: Republicans confront Tuberville over military holds in extraordinary showdown on Senate floor
Republican senators angrily challenged Sen. Tommy Tuberville on his blockade of almost 400 military officers Wednesday evening, taking over the Senate floor for more than four hours to call for individual confirmation votes after a monthslong stalemate.
Republican defense hawks unleashed their fury on Tuberville. They spent four-plus hours haranguing him as they tried to confirm dozens of the more than 300 military promotions the Alabama GOP senator has been blocking over his opposition to the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
All George Santos All The Time
- Rep. George Santos (R-NY) survived an expulsion vote in the House Wednesday.
- TPM exclusive: Santos Campaign Meltdown Attracts Interest From House Investigators
- TPM: How George Santos Left NYC Republicans Feeling Scammed
Does Speaker Mike Johnson Have a Bank Account?
Poverty is not a vice, and Speaker Mike Johnson wouldn’t be the first member of Congress living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s pretty unusual for a financial disclosure report to show zero assets, not even a bank account:
Over the course of seven years, Johnson has never reported a checking or savings account in his name, nor in the name of his wife or any of his children, disclosures show. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have money stashed in any investments, with his latest filing—covering 2022—showing no assets whatsoever.
- I’ve been wondering for a while what the heck happened to Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) that turned him from a teabagger into a relative voice of reason over the past several weeks. I guess this answers that: Buck announced yesterday that he won’t seek re-election next year.
- Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, will not run again in 2024, she announced.
- NYT: Ron DeSantis Leans Into Vaccine Skepticism to Energize Struggling Campaign
US Infant Mortality Rises For First Time In 20 Years
WSJ: The U.S. rate is double that of many developed countries.
What A Scene
Sean Hannity interviews Speaker Mike Johnson with the House GOP conference as a backdrop:
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