Judge Agrees With DOJ That Trump Likely Committed A Crime

INSIDE: Corcoran ... Stormy Daniels ... DeSantis
Davenport, Iowa - March 13 : Former President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the Adler Theatre on Monday, March 13, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Fight Over Corcoran Testimony Continues 

We’re currently back in vintage Donald Trump era where yelling about “ILLEGAL LEAKS” has become the main line of defense against a firehose of bad news for the former president. 

Let me just break down the last several hours:

  • ABC News reported last evening, citing sources familiar with the legal filings, that U.S. Judge Beryl Howell has determined Trump may have knowingly mislead his lawyers and “intentionally concealed” information about the classified materials he had in his possession after leaving the White House.
  • Howell wrote on Friday that prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office had presented enough compelling preliminary evidence “that the former president had committed criminal violations” for attorney-client privileges that at least two of his lawyers have cited to avoid testimony could potentially be revoked. 
  • The judge ordered that Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran must now comply with a grand jury subpoena for his testimony about his communications with Trump. Howell reportedly cited six separate areas of inquiry that Corcoran must now speak to after initially asserting attorney-client privilege over the comms. 
  • The judge also ordered that Corcoran must hand over some documents like handwritten notes that may be revealing of the alleged “criminal scheme” by Trump. 
  • Per ABC: “In reaching the so-called prima facie standard to pierce Corcoran’s privilege, Howell agreed prosecutors made a sufficient showing that on its face would appear to show Trump committed crimes. The judge made it clear that prosecutors would still need to meet a higher standard of evidence in order to seek charges against Trump, and more still to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
  • Then later last night: the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals placed a temporary hold on Howell’s order and told both the Trump team and prosecutors to file new arguments within hours, giving Trump a deadline of midnight and Smith’s team a deadline of 6 a.m. Wednesday. The details of the filings remain sealed for now. 

The former guy’s team has publicly responded in Trumpian fashion, with his campaign issuing a statement that was really just a laundry list of all of Trump’s favorite lines of attack – leaks, fake news and never Trumpers. 

“Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team,” the campaign said, referencing the fact that Howell is an Obama appointee. 

“Prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever,” the campaign added in a statement to Politico. “These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump.”

And, as evidenced by the Trump White House clearing out its comms department after each disastrous scandal, accused people only attack leaks when they’re running out of defense strategies.

Grand Jury Vote 

It is still unclear when the grand jury will move to indict Trump. Politico reported earlier this week that the vote may happen today, but there were additional indications yesterday that the indictment may not come down until next week. Even if charges are returned today, it could be days before Trump has to turn himself in. 

Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly looking forward to the experience, telling people close to him at his Mar-a-Lago resort that he welcomes the idea of a perp walk and a media circus. According to the New York Times, he’s most focused on ensuring he will not be seen “slinking away in shame.”

He seems to be having a nice week, too:

As he waits for a likely criminal indictment — making him the first current or former American president to face criminal charges — Mr. Trump has often appeared significantly disconnected from the severity of his potential legal woes, according to people who have spent time with him in recent days. He has been spotted zipping around his Palm Beach resort in his golf cart and on one recent evening acted as D.J. at a party with his personally curated Spotify playlists, which often include music from the Rolling Stones to “The Phantom of the Opera.”


Text messages between Trump attorney Joe Tacopina (Trump’s new TV lawyer) and Stormy Daniels dating back to 2018 were turned over to the Manhattan DA’s office, raising questions about Tacopina’s ability to serve as Trump’s lawyer in the hush payments case. CNN has the goods.

‘If I Run, I’ll Be Running Against Biden’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and gratingly long-anticipated 2024 candidate is finally, sort of, going after Trump. DeSantis sat down for an interview with the friendly Piers Morgan yesterday and discussed the potential of a presidential bid, among other things. The interview won’t air entirely until Thursday, but Morgan previewed the contours of the discussion in this New York Post column.  

If these are the best quotes from the discussion, the Trump-jabs from DeSantis were pretty tame. While he refused to say whether he’s actually running, he did say that if he tosses his hat in the primaries, he will beat Trump:

“If I were to run,” he said confidently, “I’m running against Biden. Like we [him and Trump] are competing for the Republican, potentially, I get that, but ultimately you know the guy I’m gonna focus on is Biden because I think he’s failed the country. I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction and so we’ll be very vocal about that.”

McConnell Update

The senator was recently hospitalized for five days after a fall left him with unclear injuries. The Washington Post reported late last night that McConnell has suffered a concussion and a broken rib and remains in an inpatient rehabilitation center. He reportedly phoned three Senate Republicans on Tuesday to discuss his interest in getting back to work, but he didn’t mention a recovery timeline. 

Maybe He Watched The Netflix Doc

All as he urges his followers to “take our nation back”:

Meeting The Moment

Before Roe was overturned last summer and before the draft of the majority opinion leaked, my colleague Kate Riga reported on a phenomenon that experts at the time believed would be the next front in the war on abortion in the U.S. post-Roe – policing abortion access across state lines. The six-week bounty hunter style ban had just passed in Texas and was upheld by the Supreme Court. In the piece, Kate tracked red state efforts to mimic and build upon the extreme Texas law. At the time, a Missouri Republican had just introduced an amendment that would allow people to sue anyone aiding or abetting an abortion, even if it took place in a different state. 

Flash forward to the present. Lawmakers in the Minnesota state house just passed a bill that will shield pregnant people, doctors or nurses who travel to Minnesota for abortion care from legal repercussions in their home state. The bill, dubbed the “Reproductive Freedom Defense Act,” still needs to make its way through the state Senate, but will likely be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz. From the Minnesota Reformer:

Under the bill, reproductive health records cannot be released to prosecutors or investigators in other states without the patient’s consent — even if subpoenaed by a court in another state.

The bill prohibits Minnesota judges from issuing warrants and law enforcement from making arrests of people charged with crimes in other state’s for accessing reproductive health care in Minnesota. The governor may not extradite a person charged with a crime involving reproductive health care, either.

Desperate For Cash

In the least surprising development on earth, Trump is raising money off of his own impending indictment. 

It’s Confusing Out There For The Threat-Doers

There are so many Trump investigations floating around that even those hellbent on stoking violence and issuing threats around Trump’s potential indictment are getting confused about the target. Just as CBS News was reporting that there’s been a “significant increase” in threats from domestic extremists posted online in recent days, Bloomberg News reported that someone called in a bomb threat to a Lower Manhattan courthouse.

The New York County Supreme Court building was cleared and searched and the threat was deemed unfounded, but it took place just as a judge was about to start a hearing in a separate case related to the $250 million lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump.


As some Republicans urge peace and calm in the wake of Trump’s calls for protests over his impending indictment, others are pouring gasoline on the matter. Two Trump allies used war-like imagery to describe the aftermath of a possible Trump arrest. 

  • “They can do what they want,” Trump lawyer Tacopina told Kimberly Guilfoyle on Monday. “At that point, this is an all-out war.”
  • “It’s going to blow up our country, and this is a bunch of B.S.,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said on “Fox & Friends.” 

Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Janet Protasiewicz pounced on her conservative opponent Daniel Kelly’s Big Lie ties on Tuesday during the only debate that will be held in this closely-watched race. Tuesday was also the first day of early voting in Wisconsin. 

Vanilla For Prez

The Atlantic conducted a series of focus group interviews to ask Republican voters about their opinion of the former veep who is hardly hiding his presidential ambitions. The assessments were less than stellar: Nobody Likes Pence

Move Over Kim K

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Correction: The headline of this post has been corrected to clarify that a judge agreed with DOJ’s argument that it has evidence Trump used his attorney in furtherance of a crime.

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