New Trouble Is Brewing In The Mar-a-Lago Case

INSIDE: Donald Trump ... Sam Alito ... Ken Burns
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 1: Special Counsel Jack Smith announces indictment of former President Donald Trump during a press conference on August 1, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post ... WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 1: Special Counsel Jack Smith announces indictment of former President Donald Trump during a press conference on August 1, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Will Cannon Even Rule On It?

This happened late Friday before the holiday weekend so I’m assuming many of you didn’t see it: In the Mar-a-Lago case, Special Counsel Jack Smith moved to modify the terms of Donald Trump’s release, asking the court to prohibit him from further attacks on federal law enforcement.

The latest parry arises from Trump’s blatantly false and highly incendiary claims that President Biden effectively ordered Trump’s assassination by dispatching a FBI kill team to do the Mar-a-Lago search. It’s batshit crazy stuff, and Smith is asking U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon … sigh … to order a stop to it.

It’s not a gag order per se; it’s a modification of Trump’s terms of release, which keeps him out of jail pending trial. So it doesn’t have the same First Amendment issues that might accompany any order against a non-criminal defendant.

Yesterday, Trump filed a big, over-the-top response, asking for Smith’s motion to be stricken and any DOJ lawyers associated with its filing be sanctioned.

In a normal case, this would be set up a big showdown in front of Cannon – and either side might end up appealing her ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This is of course not a normal case. Cannon’s M.O. so far has been simply not ruling on pending motions. Hard to have a showdown in front of the judge when the judge is a no show.

The underlying issue is a serious one: Trump’s sustained and ongoing attacks on federal law enforcement come after two separate attacks over the past couple of years on FBI field offices in Cincinnati and Atlanta.

Trump Verdict Could Come As Soon As This Week

Closing arguments are about to begin this morning in state court in Manhattan in the Trump hush money trial. TPM’s Josh Kovensky has resumed his stellar liveblogging from the courthouse.

Just Wow

So it turns out the WaPo knew at the time that the American flag was flying upside down at the Virginia home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in January 2021 – but decided it wasn’t worth reporting. The reporter and a key editor have since left the paper for unrelated reasons.

I’ll leave the media criticism on this to others because I think it’s more important for what it says about Alito and his wife: They were confronted by a WaPo reporter about this at their home, she freaked out about it in the presence of the reporter, and despite all of that another protest flag was flying at their New Jersey beach home as recently as last summer, more than two years after the run-in with the reporter.

But sure, blame your wife.

Quote Of The Day

There are days that I’ve come to my office after an announcement of a case and closed my door and cried.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Polarization or Radicalization?

Historian Kevin Kruse tackles bothsides-ism directly in an email to a leading practitioner of the dark art, a unnamed national columnist:

So I’d strongly disagree that the right and left are in comparable positions. Moreover, the idea that they *are* roughly equivalent seems to be a deliberate smokescreen by partisans to hide the real story, which is one of the unprecedented radicalization of the right in service of a minoritarian political project. 

I can’t think of any precedent to this moment, at least not in *American* history. The American right was committed to a politics that was similarly hostile to democracy in the 1930s, but they were marginalized. McCarthyism had its moment in the sun, but the GOP was still ideologically diverse with some internal checks. The Reagan-era GOP had some seeds of this but nothing as loud and open. 

Kruse is little snarkier than that excerpt suggests, in a totally justifiable way.

Rethinking The Concept Of Political ‘Leverage’

A thoughtful and well-written essay from Brian Beutler on the all-or-nothing extortion gambit coming from the left: “… as the progressive movement has matured, it has overtrained activists to think of politics as little more than a series of high-stakes leverage standoffs: Condition support for candidates on a particular set of policies, threatening their electability if they dissent, and discipline officeholders by leveling similar threats whenever they veer from those priorities.”

Well worth a read.

Biden’s Long Game on Climate

Robinson Meyer at Heatmap explores Biden’s climate policy in way that few people are able to do: with a keen grasp both of climate science and of politics. It’s hard finding people who can bring both to the table.

The thrust of Meyer’s analysis seeks an explanation for what on the surface can seem like contradictory efforts by Biden:

This is the guiding logic of Biden’s climate policy: that American politics must have a powerful, durable, and flexible pro-decarbonization coalition if the U.S. is to succeed in reaching net zero. Achieving this coalition is the underlying aim of the IRA, the EPA rules, and — yes — the recent tariffs.

This is one of smartest pieces I’ve read in a while.

Good Read

NOTUS: How Henry Cuellar and His Family Control Webb County, Texas

Look At What The Texas GOP Is Up To

Texas Tribune:

Republican Party of Texas delegates voted Saturday on a platform that called for … a constitutional amendment that would require statewide elected leaders to win the popular vote in a majority of Texas counties. … Under current voting patterns, in which Republicans routinely win in the state’s rural counties, such a requirement would effectively end Democrats’ chances of winning statewide office.

There’s more, including requiring the Bible be taught in public schools, but giving Texas what amounts to it’s own Electoral College to take advantage of the rural-urban split is the topper.

Florida Is Teaching Christian Nationalism?

Judd Legum: “Training materials produced by the Florida Department of Education direct middle and high school teachers to indoctrinate students in the tenets of Christian nationalism, a right-wing effort to merge Christian and American identities.”

2024 Ephemera

  • WaPo: Trump makes sweeping promises to donors on audacious fundraising tour
  • NYT: Trump Leans Into an Outlaw Image as His Criminal Trial Concludes

Amen

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