A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
This isn’t going to make or break the rule of law in America or register in the histories written of this era. But damn it’s too good to pass up because it combines Trump’s “only the best” lawyering, with fake outrage, fact-free accusations, and another in the long, long line of bogus attacks laundered through right-wing media, picked up by Trump, and repeated as if gospel.
After losing badly to E. Jean Carroll to the tune of $83 million, Trump lawyer Alina Habba sent an outrageous letter to the trial judge Monday citing a New York Post story that the judge and Carroll’s lawyer had a mentor-mentee relationship when they were at the same firm three decades ago. Habba admitted to not having all the facts, including — presumptuously — a denial from the judge. But she suggested the alleged but unproven pseudo-conflict of interest could be grounds for seeking a new trial.
Yesterday, Carroll attorney Roberta Kaplan fired back in a stinging letter of her own, calling the substance of the allegation false. Kaplan and the judge had overlapped at the same firm 30+ years ago when she was a young associate and he was the head of the firm’s litigation department, but she recalls having had no contact with him ever during that time. Kaplan concluded her letter with a not-so-veiled threat to seek sanctions against Habba.
It only took about two hours for Habba to back down. In a followup letter, Habba essentially raises the “I was just asking questions” defense. Knocked back on her heels by Kaplan, Habba denies she was a source for the underlying New York Post article.
Habba ends the letter with a double shot of smarm and disingenuousness: “Since Ms. Kaplan has now denied that there was ever a mentor-mentee relationship between herself and Your Honor, this issue has been seemingly resolved.”
Habba footnotes that sentence in a way sure to further antagonize the judge: “There are, however, various other issues relating to the Court’s conduct, including potential bias hostility towards defense counsel, that will be raised in post-trial motions and on appeal.”
Habba just keeps on losing.
Just Call It What It Is
You can’t divorce the House GOP’s bogus impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas from its 2024 campaign strategy to vilify and demonize migrants and stoke xenophobic backlash for their own political ends — any more than you can separate out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s manufactured border showdown. And yet impeachment coverage is going to overlook that and end up being a procedural blow-by-blow that lets their bad faith effort serve the exact purpose it was intended to serve. Not all the coverage is guilty though.
Experts continue to scratch their collective heads over that mystery $48 million Trump loan that special master in the NY civil fraud case has raised questions about.
Illinois Keeps Trump On The Ballot
The Illinois Board of Election by an 8-0 vote ruled that (i) Donald Trump’s statement of candidate was not knowingly false when it deemed him “qualified” for the presidency; and (ii) it lacked jurisdiction to consider whether Trump is ineligible under the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause. So Trump stays on the ballot for now.
Still No Immunity Ruling From DC Circuit!
Politico: As judges mull presidential immunity, Trump reaps the benefits of delay
8th Circuit Decimates Votings Rights Act
The full 8th Circuit has declined to take up a stunning, precedent-busting three-judge panel decision that there is no private right of action under Section 2 to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
Cori Bush Under Federal Investigation
The unnamed House Democrat under investigation for alleged misspending on personal security has come forward. It is Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).
Initial reports suggested the investigation was over misuse of government funds; whereas, Bush says the probe is over her use of campaign funds, including payments to her husband, a security guard whom she married last year. It’s not clear to me whether that’s a relevant or meaningful distinction in this matter.
[Sponsored] An Inside Story Of The Democratic Party At A Moment Of Great Peril
The Truce, from journalists Hunter Walker (of Talking Points Memo) and Luppe B. Luppen, explores the major fault lines that define Democratic politics today and asks big questions about the future of the party. An engrossing page-turner, The Truce grapples with the dangers that threaten American democracy and the complicated cast of characters who are trying to save it.
Jean Carnahan, 1933-2024
I don’t want to reduce the life of former Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO), who died yesterday at 90, to the tragic airplane crash that killed her husband Mel and, too often overlooked, her son Randy in October 2000. But 2000 remains a dramatic fork in the road of modern American history, and I remember the shock of hearing of the crash alongside the other momentous events of that election cycle: the Florida recount and Bush v. Gore.
Mel, the sitting governor of Missouri, was locked in a tight Senate race with Sen. John Ashcroft (R) at the time of the crash and would go on to become the first person ever elected posthumously to the Senate. The Democratic lieutenant governor who succeeded Mel appointed Jean to his Senate seat, which she would hold until she lost an exceedingly close 2002 special election to Republican Jim Talent.
In a brutal turn of events for Missouri Democrats, the just-defeated Ashcroft became attorney general in the new Bush II administration. But, in a foreshadowing of the pattern we’ve become accustomed to in recent years, where the GOP villains of one era are left behind by their increasingly radicalized party, Ashcroft ended up a hero of sorts in a dramatic hospital bed scene famously described by his deputy James Comey, refusing to bow to Bush White House pressure to reauthorize a secret surveillance program.
Cecile Richards Reveals Brain Cancer Diagnosis
Musk’s ‘Deeply Flawed’ Tesla Pay Package Struck Down
‘He Was Almost Brainwashed’
WaPo: Ohio man sentenced to 18 years for bombing church that was hosting drag event
No Shortage Of Things To Pretend To Be Outraged About
Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!