Wait, Trump Is Sticking With The No Sex Claim?

INSIDE: Juan Merchan ... Michael Cohen ... Joe Biden
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.

Good Luck With That One!

It hadn’t fully occurred to me until opening statements yesterday that Donald Trump was going to stick with his claim that he never had sex with Stormy Daniels or, by extension, Karen McDougal.

As the first real day of trial unfolded yesterday, it became apparent that Trump wasn’t merely going to argue that this was a bullshit application of the business records law and that nothing he did amounted to criminal conduct. Rather, he was going to continue with the maximum denial: No sex, no affairs, no hanky-panky period.

That sets up the challenge of having to overcome the expected testimony of Daniels about the sex, in addition to all the testimony from Michael Cohen, David Pecker and others about how this transaction worked, what it was for, who was involved, etc.

If you’re a juror listening to all this, you almost have to believe that there was a massive setup of Trump, a wide-ranging conspiracy against him, in order to rule in his favor. That’s a high bar to clear.

‘What Have We Done?’

A resonant moment in court yesterday:

TPM Coverage Alert

Josh Kovensky will be liveblogging the proceedings again today. Great stuff! Check it out.

First Order Of Business Today: Gag Order

Judge Juan Merchan is expected to take up Trump’s 10 alleged gag order violations in a hearing at 9:30 a.m. ET, before trial resumes later this morning. This can go in a lot of different directions, so I’m not to make any predictions. I would keep your expectations very low that Trump is going to be hauled off to jail this morning.

Things to know:

More From Day 1 Of The Trial

  • The Atlantic: Trump’s Misogyny Is on Trial in New York
  • Philip Bump: Unpacking the alleged crime that made Trump’s alleged crime a felony
  • Harry Litman: How Trump’s trial will go well beyond the charges to paint a damning portrait of him

How’s The Trial Going For Trump?

The Fox News propaganda machine is so reliably pro-Trump that it can actually serve as a decent barometer of how things are going for him. When the Fox News defenders debase themselves with especially over-the-top, ridiculous, and far-fetched lines of attack, it’s a pretty good sign Trump is in the shit:

The man running to be president again finds it torturous to sit in a room for a grueling eight hours a day and a whopping four days a week. Brutal.

‘Plasmic Echo’: Eye-Opening New Deets In Unsealed MAL Docs

On order from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, hundreds of pages of investigative records in the Mar-a-Lago case were unsealed yesterday (with heavy redactions). Among the highlights:

  • The FBI code name for the Mar-a-Lago investigations: Plasmic Echo
  • A senior Trump aide who had access to Trump in the White House and post-presidency cooperated with investigators.
  • Trump valet and co-defendant Walt Nauta was allegedly told he’d receive a pardon in 2024. (Editor’s note: If Trump does win, he won’t take office until 2025 …)

These were records that Special Counsel Jack Smith had fought to keep sealed.

Trump Prosecution Miscellany

  • NYT: The Circus Trump Wanted Outside His Trial Hasn’t Arrived
  • Aaron Blake: Trump’s transparent attempt to play the victim on ‘election interference’
  • NYT: Could Trump Go to Prison? If He Does, the Secret Service Goes, Too

Quote Of The Day

January 6th was no less than an intent and an effort to replace by force who our country had voted for. The mob was there because it hadn’t achieved what it wanted to at the ballot box.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of Washington, D.C., in sentencing a Jan. 6 rioter

Trump Appeal Bond Gets All Sorted Out

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Trump worked out an agreement on the fly yesterday to tighten up his appeal bond, and the judge in the case approved it. That should put this whole matter to rest for the pendency of Trump’s appeal of the mammoth $454 million judgment against him in the civil fraud case.

2024 Ephemera

  • AP: In Tampa, Biden will assail Florida’s six-week abortion ban
  • TPM’s Nicole Lafond: Abortion Group, Dems Warn Swing State Voters That RFK Is Just As Dangerous As Trump On Abortion

Abortion Watch

  • WSJ: In oral arguments Wednesday, the Supreme Court will turn to emergency abortions as the Dobbs fallout continues.
  • Arizona Republic: California bill to offer Arizona abortion providers licenses in state
  • WSJ: New U.S. Rule Bans Release of Health Records in Investigations of Women Who Get Legal Abortions

‘Where Are They Supposed To Sleep?’

TPM’s Kate Riga: Liberal Justices Come Out Swinging In Uphill Battle Over Criminalizing Homelessness

Israel-Gaza Fallout

NYT: Scenes of Protests Spread at Elite Campuses

Dark Brandon On The Loose

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: