Cash-Strapped Trump’s TikTok Flip-Flop Exposes His Extreme Personal Vulnerability

INSIDE: Brian Butler ... Christina Bobb ... Alexander Smirnov
The TikTok application is seen on an iPhone 11 Pro max in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on September 30, 2020. The TikTok app will be banned from US app stores from Sunday unless president Donald Trump ap... The TikTok application is seen on an iPhone 11 Pro max in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on September 30, 2020. The TikTok app will be banned from US app stores from Sunday unless president Donald Trump approves a last-minute deal between US tech firm Oracle and TikTok owner ByteDance. US authorities say the Chinese video sharing app threaten national security and could pass on user data to China. (Photo Illustration by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Spot The Easy Mark

Donald Trump is facing more than half a billion dollar in civil judgments that threaten his personal finances, and he’s running behind Biden in campaign fundraising. While Trump has always been an easy mark from a national security perspective, the new cash crunch brought on by his big court losses makes him even more vulnerable to outside influence, whether that’s foreign adversaries, lobbying campaigns, or the personal intervention of big donors protecting their own interests.

Trump’s big reversal on whether to effectively ban TikTok in the U.S. is not the first time Trump has flipped his position on TikTok when it would benefit a billionaire donor, but Trump’s own personal financial position is considerably weaker now than it was then.

Chris Hayes went a bit deeper on the the ways in which Trump’s compromised position can and will dictate policy choices, but in ways that are unpredictable, fleeting, purely transactional, and which won’t line up neatly or consistently.

More on this from Brian Beutler: Trump’s Corruption-Policy Nexus Comes Into Focus.

I have to resist the temptation to include in Morning Memo a reminder every damn day that the Trump Republican Party has no party platform.

The divorce of policy from ideology and ideology from policy has been a long time coming in the GOP. It’s not a Trump creation, but it did pave the way for Trump. It creates laboratory conditions for graft, fraud, undue influence, and transactional politics in which the public interest is largely an irrelevance. It is a foundational element of authoritarian politics. Everything is for sale, and the strong man is the seller.

TikTok Bill Faces Tough Road In Senate

The House-passed bill forcing Tik Tok’s Chinese parent to divest its U.S. operation or face a ban in the states faces uncertain prospects in the Senate. It doesn’t appear likely the Senate will pass the House bill as-is, but what emerges from the Senate and whether it can pass the House again remains a work in progress.

In the meantime, a smart David Sanger piece on how the current approach on the Hill doesn’t really address the underlying security threat: “In the four years this battle has gone on, it has become clear that the security threat posed by TikTok has far less to do with who owns it than it does with who writes the code and algorithms that make TikTok tick.”

Georgia RICO Counts Tossed

A significant win for some of the defendants, including Donald Trump, in the Georgia RICO case, where the judge agreed that some of the counts in the indictment were too vague as a matter of law and dismissed six of the 41 counts.

Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis can re-file those counts with more specificity if she chooses to and has the facts to do so. But for now chalk this up as a victory for the defense team.

Keep On Confessing, Bub

Ahead of a daylong hearing today in the Mar-a-Lago case to argue over two of Trump’s frivolous motions to dismiss, the man continues to provide evidence against himself:

The Full CNN Interview With Brian Butler

“Trump Employee 5” spills the tea on the Mar-a-Lago coverup:

Red Alert

Former OAN reporter Christina Bobb, a Big lie proponent who touted the Arizona 2020 audit and as Trump’s attorney was deeply entangled in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents coverup, is being installed at the new Trump-controlled RNC as a “as senior counsel for election integrity.”

TPM’s Election Threat Mini-Series

Our newest reporter, Khaya Himmelman (welcome, Khaya!), has compiled an introductory series of posts about the threats to the upcoming election and some of the attempts to address those threats:

These types of stories will be a big part of Khaya’s coverage this year, so if you have tips on threats to election workers, Big Lie proponents embarking on new crusades, voter suppression, and the like, you can send them to our tip line. Put “Welcome, Khaya!” in the subject line so she can spot them. Thanks in advance!

2024 Ephemera

  • CO-04: District-switching Rep. Lauren Boebert won’t run in the Colorado special election to finish the term of the resigning Rep. Ken Buck, but will instead finish out her term representing the CO-03 and continue to run in the regular election to fill Buck’s seat for a full term.
  • OH-Sen: Democrats are meddling in next week’s GOP Senate primary by boosting Trump-backed Republican Bernie Moreno, whom they consider a weaker general election opponent for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
  • Vice President Kamala Harris will be the first president or vice president to tour an abortion clinic when she visits Minnesota today.

Essential Reading

Nikole Hannah-Jones for NYT Mag: How the ‘colorblindness’ trap hijacked a civil rights ideal

Hmmm …

The Guardian: Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant indicted for spreading lies about the Bidens and Burisma, was paid $600,000 in 2020 by a U.S. company that is connected to a UK company owned by Trump business associates in Dubai.

The Tropiest Of Political/Journalistic Tropes

Alexandra Petri on the maddening “if everyone’s mad, you must be doing something right” trope embraced as validation by assholes everywhere.

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