An Unprecedentedly Corrupt Ex-POTUS Finally Faces The Music

INSIDE: Alvin Bragg ... Todd Blanche ... MTG
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan on April 3, 2023 in New York City. Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at a Manhattan courthouse following... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 03: Former U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower in Manhattan on April 3, 2023 in New York City. Trump is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow at a Manhattan courthouse following his indictment by a grand jury. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Alvin Bragg Runs A Tight Ship

I would not have put any amount of money on the Trump indictment not leaking for five days after we first learned of it Thursday. But we made it through another night without so much as an official peep.

The most substantive non-official account to emerge in the last 24 hours comes via Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, who reports that the indictment contains a whopping 34 felony counts for falsification of business records. Isikoff’s source is someone “who has been briefed on the procedures for the arraignment of the former president.”

We’ll see.

What You Need To Know Today On Timing

I suspect today’s schedule will be pretty fluid, so this is guidance, not gospel:

2:15 p.m. ET: Trump arraignment

3:30 p.m. ET: District Attorney Alvin Bragg will hold a press conference

The Atmospherics

The only two things I truly care about today are (i) what’s actually in the indictment; and (ii) any political violence encouraged by Trump or carried out by his followers.

Alas, this is a circus with all the attendant breathless coverage (fellow editors and producers, it doesn’t have to be this way …), so let me quickly run through some of the related items:

  • Trump wanted a spectacle: Of course he did! Rolling Stone reports that the Secret Service wanted a low-key, maybe even remote arraignment, but Trump wanted no such thing.
  • No mugshot or handcuffs for Trump? Michael Isikoff reports:

But, the source said, Trump will not be put in handcuffs, placed in a jail cell or subjected to a mug shot — typical procedures even for white-collar defendants until a judge has weighed in on pretrial conditions. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, which has been consulting with the Secret Service and New York City court officials, concluded there was no reason to subject the former president to handcuffs or a mug shot.

  • No video coverage in the courtroom: Judge Juan Merchan issued an order last night allowing five still photographers into the courtroom before but not during the arraignment. No video coverage of the arraignment will be allowed, and no electronic devices will be allowed in the courtroom during the arraignment. Cameras will be permitted in the hallways of the courthouse.

What To Look For

The coverage today is going to be hamstrung by lack of cameras or electronic devices in the courtroom, but … but … but: Arraignments are generally boring, procedural and lacking in news. So it sets up a whole day of waiting and anticipating for something that doesn’t amount to much and that we won’t actually see.

Which brings me back to the indictment itself. Not clear when exactly it will be unsealed: right before the arraignment, simultaneous with it, immediately afterwards? Or possibly it will be leaked by the Trump side, or emerge in some other way. Whatever the exact timing, the indictment unsealing is the day’s big news.

I’ll be focusing on the indictment itself, and TPM’s coverage will be built mostly around the actual charges. Our live coverage throughout the day will be here.

One last point: The indictment could be skimpy on facts or a fact-rich lengthy narration. A lengthy narration would have the potential advantage of revealing new details, new bad acts or incriminating evidence. Obviously, I’m hoping for the latter.

Trump Has A New Lead Criminal Defense Attorney

Trump has tapped attorney Todd Blanche to lead his defense of the New York state criminal case.

  • Blanche had to resign as a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft to take on the representation of Trump, a sign that Trump remains toxic to big law firms.
  • Previous Blanche clients from Trump world: former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani associate Igor Fruman. (Note: Blanche successfully repped Manafort in the state financial crimes case, where charges were ultimately dropped, not the parallel federal prosecutions).

Meanwhile, In The MAL Case …

Several Secret Service agents have been subpoenaed and are expected to testify before a DC grand jury on Friday in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, Fox New reports.

Trying To Get His Life Back

Former Clinton attorney Michael Sussmann, acquitted after being targeted in Special Counsel John Durham’s deeply corrupt probe, has landed a new job in the cybersecurity and privacy practice of a Silicon Valley-based law firm.

I Keep Going Back To That 60 Minutes Disaster With MTG

Lesley Stahl’s epically bad 60 Minutes segment on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is still reverberating.

Jeff Sharlet dissects it with great skill here:

Outwitted By Mickey Mouse

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) orders the state inspector general to investigate how Disney succeeded in bamboozling him.

Big Protests In Nashville

High school students across Nashville walked out Monday and gathered at the state capitol to protest lax gun laws after last week’s shooting left six dead at Covenant School.

Tennessee House GOP Flips Out Over Protests

The GOP speaker of the Tennessee House is moving to expel three Democratic representatives who joined with school shooting protestors in the chamber last Thursday. Comparing the protest to the Jan. 6 attacks, even though no property damage and no injuries occurred, House Republicans unleashed chaos in the chamber Monday night as they introduced the expulsion resolution. A vote on the resolution is expected Thursday.

‘It’s Kind Of A Jesus Christ Thing’

Feel the narcissism.

From the Rolling Stone report on Trump wanting to make his arraignment into a spectacle:

“It’s kind of a Jesus Christ thing. He is saying, ‘I’m absorbing all this pain from all around from everywhere so you don’t have to,’ ” says the source. Describing the message Trump hopes to send his supporters, the source says: “ ‘If they can do this to me they can do this to you,’ and that’s a powerful message.”

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