A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Don’t Lose Your Sense Of The Absurd
President Biden is expected to make the formal announcement of his re-election campaign tomorrow, the same day that the civil trial of Donald Trump on charges he raped E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s is set to begin.
It is as remarkable a tableau in American politics as you’ll see.
The former president, once defeated by the current president and still widely expected to be the GOP nominee against him in 2024, facing a rape and defamation civil trial in federal court in New York while also under criminal indictment in New York state court.
The challenge in our politics since circa 2015 has been to try to preserve some internal sense of what “normal” is. Without a baseline against which to measure the deviations from the norm, it’s easy to get lost. Frankly, even with a baseline it’s been easy to get lost.
During this era, I’ve reverted to two different baselines, neither perfect, but each useful in its own way: (i) what might we have expected in politics 10 or 20 years ago; and (ii) how will historians view today 100 years from now.
By either measure, the week ahead presents an astonishing departure from anything resembling normal.
- Biden expected to tap Julie Chavez Rodriguez as his 2024 campaign manager
- A bipartisan group of political operatives has formed Mission Democracy PAC to target far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) among others.
- Mike Pence is set to testify in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 probe but he won’t say when.
Bragg and Jordan Settle Subpoena Dispute
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan have reached a settlement in their dispute over Jordan’s subpoena of former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz. Under the reported terms of the agreement, Pomerantz’s testimony to the committee will be allowed, a win for Jordan, but an attorney from Bragg’s office will be allowed to be present.
The settlement came after Bragg lost badly in the district court in his attempt to block the House subpoena. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had put the lower court decision on hold and agreed to consider the case, but Bragg and Jordan told the appeals court late Friday that they had reached an accommodation.
Pomerantz’s deposition is now scheduled for May 12.
Remember though: This is all part of Jordan’s broad effort to undermine, delegitimize and interfere with Bragg’s prosecution of Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money case. That effort will continue.
Boris Epshteyn Grilled For Second Day
Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn spent a second day Friday being interview by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team, ABC News reported:
- “The second day of questioning was planned in advance.”
- “Sources say that Smith personally sat in on a portion of Epshteyn’s interview Thursday, but did not participate in any of the questioning.”
- “The interview was largely focused on the efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss.”
This Could Get Interesting
CNN: “In mid-January 2021, two men hired by former President Donald Trump’s legal team discussed over text message what to do with data obtained from a breached voting machine in a rural county in Georgia, including whether to use it as part of an attempt to decertify the state’s pending Senate runoff results.”
Alito Dissent Was Classic Alito
The conservative Supreme Court showed there are some limits to how far it will go in imposing its favored policy positions, putting on hold late Friday the outrageous abortion pill rulings out of Texas. While a majority of the court hewed to the rule of law, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, with Alito authoring his own dissent. It was classic Alito: bitter, intemperate, small-minded.
Correction: This item originally left the impression that Thomas joined Alito’s written dissent. He did not.
John Roberts Easily Blows Off Dick Durbin
Chief Justice John Roberts responded to Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin’s request to investigate Clarence Thomas’ financial disclosure lapses by referring the request to the Judicial Conference, the policy-making body of the federal courts.
Asked Sunday why he hasn’t subpoenaed Clarence Thomas to come before his committee, Durbin said Thomas would have just ignored him. Oh …
More Kacsmaryk Disclosure Issues
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, the Amarillo abortion pill judge, “redacted key information on his legally mandated financial disclosures, in what legal experts described as an unusual move that conceals the bulk of his personal fortune,” CNN reports.
The “Administrative Office of the United States Courts approved the redaction after reviewing the relevant rules and applicable threats,” Kacsmaryk said in a statement to CNN.
This revelation is on top of his previous failure to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation process two provocative Christian talk radio interviews he did and his authorship of a controversial law review article.
The Week Ahead
Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to bring his debt-ceiling hostage-taking bill to a floor vote as early as Wednesday. Not clear whether he has the votes in his own conference, but the consensus of the reporting from the Hill is that his prospects look better than they did last week.
You Gotta Be Kidding
Everything that’s wrong with the debt-ceiling coverage … in one headline: “Biden is running out of time to avoid calamitous debt ceiling outcomes”
Credit Where Due
Good headline from WaPo: “Trump touts authoritarian vision for second term”
Colin Woodard takes the premise of landmark book – American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America – and combines it with a decade’s worth of CDC data on homicides and suicides and is able to definitively say: “Gun Violence Is Actually Worse in Red States. It’s Not Even Close.”
It’s Not Just Trump
The on-the-ground manifestations of the country’s slide toward authoritarianism are at least as alarming as what’s happened to the Republican Party under Trump:
Shasta County, California: “A California journalist documents the far-right takeover of her town: ‘We’re a test case’”
Ottawa County, Michigan: “In a thriving Michigan county, a community goes to war with itself”
WaPo: The Florida sheriff vs. the neo-Nazi ‘scumbags’
Jury Selection Begins In Tree Of Life Massacre Trial
The federal hate crime trial of Robert Bowers for the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre begins today in Pittsburgh. The feds are seeking the death penalty in the case.
Rough Weekend For Elon
The surviving folks behind New Coke must be rejoicing these days that the Swiftest Brand Damage in History Award has been swiped by Elon Musk with his Twitter play.
When your product is being compared to unfavorably to herpes medication, everything is going great! pic.twitter.com/DqPCCndqFh— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan in other places) (@BrendanNyhan) April 23, 2023
The conservative campaign to rewrite child labor laws is being backed by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida-based think tank and lobbying group which drafted state legislation to strip child workplace protections, WaPo reports.
The powerful geomagnetic storm overnight enabled folks as far south as Missouri and Virginia to see the aurora:
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