A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
The Speaker Has No Clothes
The House GOP under Speaker Mike Johnson is flopping around like a fish in the bottom of the boat.
In a nearly unprecedented failure, Johnson brought articles of impeachment to the House floor and lost. He lost! He didn’t have the votes! He couldn’t do the math!
It was a spectacular and unexpected failure. The impeachment was bogus to begin with. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had not committed any high crimes or misdemeanors and hadn’t even been accused of doing so. This was purely a political impeachment, designed to front the border issue for the House GOP and Donald Trump in an election year. So even on its own terms as a political hatchet job, Johnson was unable to get the job done.
House Republicans insist they can bring the impeachment back to the floor later and win because Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) would have been the deciding vote last night but was absent for treatment for cancer. We shall see.
As a fitting coda to the day, Johnson brought up an Israel funding bill right after the impeachment vote, and it failed, too.
Not All Heroes Wear Hospital Gowns
Recovering from emergency surgery, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) left his hospital bed to head to the Capitol where he was rolled onto the House floor in a wheelchair to cast the decisive vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas:
After he arrived on Capitol Hill, Green was taken to the attending physician’s office, where a bed and other preparations awaited him. “I stayed there, until I went upstairs for the vote,” he said.
Following the vote, Green returned to the hospital.
The Key GOP Votes Against Impeachment
The difference makers on the GOP side were:
- Ken Buck (CO)
- Mike Gallagher (WI)
- Tom McClintock (CA)
With such a narrow majority, that’s all it took. (One GOP member later changed their vote to preserve the option to bring the articles of impeachment back up, but that’s a procedural move that doesn’t change the political dynamic.)
How It Played
The coverage was one big ouch for Johnson and the House GOP:
- “an embarrassment for the party”
- “truly one of the most embarrassing days in recent House GOP history”
- “Republicans in Congress suffered a humiliating series of setbacks on Tuesday on critical elements of their agenda, turning the Capitol into a den of dysfunction.”
- “The failed vote was a stunning rebuke of a months-long investigation into Mayorkas that had raised concerns among legal experts and even some Republicans.”
Rep. Marjorie Greene (R-GA) bemoans getting outplayed, out-mathed, out-smarted, and outgunned by House Democrats:
What A Collossal Mess
Meanwhile, things aren’t looking any better in the other GOP imbroglio on the Hill. The Ukraine aid-border bill package that Republicans insisted on for months then immediately abandoned is now in ruins.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to force a Senate vote today on the package, which will fail, in order to get Republicans on the record opposing it. Then he plans to vote on the foriegn aid elements separately. It’s some classic twisting of the knife for maximum political gain, but it was all invited by the Republican double cross, captured nicely by this tweet:
Beep … Beep … Beep …
Asked jokingly by a reporter how he felt being run over by a metaphorical bus by GOP colleagues opposing his work, Lankford scoffed, “And backed up [over].”
Boom! We May Yet Get A Trump Jan. 6 Trial This Year
The DC Circuit’s immunity decision struck a decisive blow against Trump’s argument that the president is above the law. In doing so, it reaffirmed the basic constitutional order and gave the rule of law a fighting chance.
But timing is still critically important.
If the legal system can’t prosecute Donald Trump for his attempt to steal the last election before the next election takes place, it’s a fundamental failure of the system. As I’ve said before, if the legal system cannot rise up in a timely fashion to defend itself against an existential threat like Trump, then we have foundational problems that go beyond one man or one movement.
The appeals court ruling now provides a fighting chance to try Trump for election subversion before November. We’re not out of the woods yet. A lot will depend on what the Supreme Court does. But the DC Circuit acted quickly enough to open up a path to starting trial somewhere between the late spring and late summer.
The folks at Just Security have mapped out plausible timeframe scenarios:
Music To My Ears
For rule of law aficionados, some of the choicest quotes from the DC Circuit ruling that the president does not enjoy absolute immunity from criminal prosecution:
For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.
Instead of inhibiting the President’s lawful discretionary action, the prospect of federal criminal liability might serve as a structural benefit to deter possible abuses of power and criminal behavior
It would be a striking paradox if the President, who alone is vested with the constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” were the sole officer capable of defying those laws with impunity.
Former President Trump’s alleged efforts to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election were, if proven, an unprecedented assault on the structure of our government. He allegedly injected himself into a process in which the President has no role — the counting and certifying of the Electoral College votes — thereby undermining constitutionally established procedures and the will of the Congress.
We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power — the recognition and implementation of election results. Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count.
At bottom, former President Trump’s stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the President beyond the reach of all three Branches. Presidential immunity against federal indictment would mean that, as to the President, the Congress could not legislate, the Executive could not prosecute and the Judiciary could not review. We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.
More Immunity Coverage …
Can’t get enough? Me either:
- Joyce Vance: He’s Not Immune
- Charlie Savage: Forceful Opinion Repudiates Claim That Trump Can’t Be Charged in Election Case
- Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court Knows What It Must Do With Trump’s Immunity Ploy
What A Week For Trump!
If yesterday’s consquential loss on immunity at the DC Circuit and tomorrow’s Supreme Court oral arguments on the Disqualification Clause aren’t enough, Donald Trump looks ready to take another big hit, this time in the New York civil fraud case that could cost him millions of dollars in penalties and his business empire.
Responding to a NYT report that former Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg is poised to plead guilty to committing perjury on the stand in the civil fraud case, the trial judge wants to know from the parties WTF is going on and how this should effect the verdict he is preparing. Recall the judge has set a Jan. 31 deadline for his ruling, but that’s been delayed, perhaps in part because of the Weisselberg news.
Among the bad signs for Trump, the trial judge openly pondered in his letter to the parties whether he should deem all of Weisselberg’s testimony unreliable if he did in fact commit perjury. The parties have until 5 p.m. ET today to respond to the judge’s queries.
TPM’s Hunter Walker: The ‘Nuclear’ Election Conspiracy Doc Trump Cited In Court Is A Sign Of Things To Come
Standby For Report From Biden Special Counsel
Special Counsel Robert Hur, who has been investigating Biden’s mishandling of classified documents from his time as vice president, is set to release imminently a report on his findings that is expected to be critical of Biden and his aides but not lead to criminal charges against anyone.
Prosecutors in the case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have revealed in a court filing that they have a confidential source who made recordings during the investigation.
NH Investigates Voter Suppression Calls
New Hampshire’s attorney general has opened a criminal investigation into those robocalls that used a fake Biden voice to urge Democrats not to vote in last month’s primary election – and has identified a Texas telecom company as the source of the calls.
If you’re a connoisseur of the absurdist oeuvre of the ratfuckers Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, then you’ll want to add a new federal lawsuit against them in Virginia to your collection. It accuses them of defamation, conspiracy, invasion of privacy, tortious interference and racketeering, among other things, in a hare-brained scheme that will gobsmack you. Truly.
Can She Use Her Real Name Again?
- Biden wins Nevada Democratic primary.
- Nikki Haley loses to ‘none of these candidates’ in Nevada GOP primary.
- Biden vows to make collapse of border bill a campaign issue.
School Gunman’s Mother Convicted
The mother of the then-15-year-old gunman who killed four people at Oxford High School in Michigan in 2021 has been convicted of four counts of involuntary manslaughter after a two-weel trial and 11 hours of jury deliberations. Her son previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
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