Ouch! Trump Lawyer Takes An Absolute Drubbing By The Judge

INSIDE: E. Jean Carroll ... Lewis Kaplan ... Mitt Romney
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 11: Former U.S. President Donald Trump stands with his lawyer Alina Habba as she speaks to the media at one of his properties, 40 Wall Street, following closing arguments at his civil fr... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 11: Former U.S. President Donald Trump stands with his lawyer Alina Habba as she speaks to the media at one of his properties, 40 Wall Street, following closing arguments at his civil fraud trial on January 11, 2024 in New York City. The former president, who is currently the front runner for the Republican nomination, attended the closing arguments for the trial which will now go to the judge for the penalty phase in which New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $370 million in damages and to prohibit Trump from doing business in the state. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Alina Habba Had An Unforgettable Day In Court

I can’t recall a lawyer having a worse go of it in open court than Trump lawyer Alina Habba did yesterday in the damages trial against Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll.

Habba had the unenviable task of cross-examining Carroll, the 80-year-old victim of Trump’s sexual assault and subsequent defamation. But Habba made things so much worse for herself. So much worse.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a 79-year-old veteran jurist, shot Habba down so many times that I started to wonder if her misguided strategy was to somehow make the jury hate her more than her client. What good that would do, one can only imagine.

I counted at least five times that the judge ordered Habba: “Sit down.”

But there was also the one time that he ordered her to stand up: “Ms. Habba, when you speak in this courtroom or any other courtroom you’ll stand up.”

Habba struggled to make proper objections during Carroll’s direct testimony. She struggled to introduce evidence on cross. She struggled with the hearsay rule. It was epically bad.

I don’t usually like to clutter up Morning Memo with numerous tweets from the same thread, but these are so good (thanks to the work of Matthew Russell Lee) and so many of you are no longer on X/Twitter, that I’m going to make an exception today. Here’s a choice sample, in chronological order:

If you’ve spent most of the last decade yearning for someone to bring Trump to heel, perhaps you can vicariously enjoy Habba’s drubbing as a proxy for Trump himself.

Trump Almost Bounced From Court

As for Trump, Judge Kaplan confronted him directly for making comments about the proceedings that were audible to the jury in the courtroom.

If Trump continued to act out, Kaplan told him, he would forfeit his right to be present for the trial.

That led to a brief but charged back and forth between Trump and the judge.

Trump Self Bounces

Quote Of The Day

I think a lot of people in this country are out of touch with reality and will accept anything Donald Trump tells them. You had a jury that said that Donald Trump raped a woman. And that doesn’t seem to be moving the needle. There’s a lot of things about today’s electorate that I have a hard time understanding.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)

Maine Disqualification Clause Case Paused

A state court in Maine has ordered Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to hold off on implementing her decision to remove Donald Trump from the GOP primary ballot until after the U.S. Supreme Court decides the Disqualification Clause case out of Colorado.

Yesterday’s Biggest News

In oral arguments Wednesday, the Supreme Court conservative supermajority looked poised to radically rewrite its own precedent on administrative law, firmly grasping the brass ring the conservative legal movement has been reaching for for decades.

If that doesn’t sound particularly serious, let me be clear: It likely portends a fundamental reordering of public and private life in America that will endure for decades and be felt in more ways than we can possibly envision from our current vantage point.

Time To Step Up

Greg Sargent: Trump Pocketed Millions in Foreign Payments. Why Won’t Senate Democrats Investigate?

Rinse And Repeat

Brian Beutler: The Democrats’ Alarming Nonchalance About The Juggernaut Of Reactionary Media

For Your Radar

Iran and Pakistan have traded airstrikes this week in a dangerous and destabilizing tit-for-tat. This week alone, Iran has carried out strikes against Iraq, Syria, and now Pakistan.

Greenland Is Sending Out A Warning

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than previously thought, according to a new study that finds previous analyses underestimated the loss of ice by as much as 20 percent.

Iceland May Be In For A Long Eruption Cycle

Molten lava from a fissure on the Reykjanes peninsula 3km north of the evacuate town of Grindavik, western Iceland on December 19, 2023. (Photo by Kristinn Magnusson / AFP) / Iceland OUT (Photo by KRISTINN MAGNUSSON/AFP via Getty Images)

As you may have detected by now, I enjoy the mind-fuck of geology, especially trying to wrap my head around geological time frames.

The latest eruptive cycle on the Reykjanes Peninsula comes after an 800-year period of quiescence. We’re four years into the current eruptive cycle, and rather than being a singular explosive eruption that quickly dissipates, the geological record suggests that Iceland could be in for decades of disruptive eruptive activity along the peninsula.

Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: