Federal Judge Directs His Scorn At Trump’s Courtroom Behavior

INSIDE: Emil Bove ... Lisa Page ... Steve Bannon
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 23, 2024 in New York City. Former U.... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 23: Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 23, 2024 in New York City. Former U.S. President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Brendan McDermid-Pool/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.

A Little Housekeeping

I promised to circle back on some of the notable news last week that was drowned out by the major stories of the day. This is an effort to sweep up some of those loose ends.

Judge Puts Trump On Full Blast

With all the other news last week, you may have missed the withering treatment Donald Trump received from the federal judge in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected Trump’s motion for a new trial and upheld the $83 million damages award in Carroll’s favor. In doing so, the judge raked Trump over the coals for his ongoing defamation of Carroll, his repeated instances of defamation, and his demeanor during the trial.

The full opinion is here.

The judge rejected Trump’s use of comparable cases to argue that the compensatory damages awarded Carroll were excessive: “None of these prior examples involved publication of defamations as widespread and destructive as Mr. Trump’s defamation of Ms. Carroll, and none involved a publisher of defamation who was a president of the United States or anyone nearly as high-profile.”

But it was Trump’ conduct in court that drew the most ire from the judge. In finding that the punitive damages awarded Carroll were appropriate, the judge wrote:

But beyond his out-of-court statements disparaging Ms. Carroll during trial — many of which were introduced in evidence — the jury could have found that Mr. Trump’s demeanor and conduct in the courtroom itself put his hatred and disdain on full display. Mr. Trump could be heard repeatedly complaining to his counsel about the proceedings, so much so that plaintiff’s counsel twice requested that the Court instruct him to stop. In particular, during Ms. Carroll’s testimony, the jury could have found, Mr. Trump could be heard making audible comments that Ms. Carroll’s testimony was false, that the proceedings were a “witch hunt” and a “con job,” and most notably, that his earlier statements disparaging Ms. Carroll were “true.” And, most dramatically, mere minutes after plaintiff’s counsel began her closing argument, Mr. Trump conspicuously stood and walked out of the courtroom for no apparent reason save to evidence his disapproval, though he was present again when Court resumed later that morning and remained for his own counsel’s entire summation.

This case will be wending its way through appeals for a while, so don’t expect Carroll to begin collecting on her judgment any time soon.

No Trump Trial Today

The hush-money trial resumes Tuesday.

Meanwhile, TPM’s Josh Kovensky assesses the two days of cross examination of former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker by Trump lawyer Emil Bove.

Arizona Fake Elector Elected To RNC

CNN: “Arizona state Sen. Jake Hoffman, one of the so-called fake electors charged in the Arizona 2020 election subversion case, announced Saturday that he’s been elected as a Republican National Committee national committeeman for the state.”

Trump II Takes Aim At The Fed, Too

WSJ: “Donald Trump’s allies are quietly drafting proposals that would attempt to erode the Federal Reserve’s independence if the former president wins a second term, in the midst of a deepening divide among his advisers over how aggressively to challenge the central bank’s authority.”

What Being A Target Of Trump Looks Like

Lisa Page, the former FBI attorney whose affair with Peter Strzok became endless fodder for Donald Trump delegitimization of the Mueller investigation, was in court last week trying to convince a judge to do more to protect her from a stalker about whom the FBI had allegedly failed to warn her:

In mid-December, Mr. Perez showed up at least four times at Ms. Page’s house in Washington, making a bizarre claim that she had been witness to his childhood sexual abuse, even though the two had never met, according to a warrant from the Metropolitan Police Department. During one visit, he interacted with Ms. Page’s 11-year-old son.

The man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor stalking and was barred from the DC area for six months and ordered to attend six therapy sessions.


Mother Jones: “In a little-noticed court filing earlier this month, federal prosecutors described Steve Bannon as a “co-conspirator” in a massive criminal fraud and racketeering case against a flamboyant, far-right Chinese fugitive, compounding the legal headaches of the former Donald Trump adviser.”

‘Turning The Oval Office Into The Seat Of Criminal Activity’

Still reeling over that insane Supreme Court argument on presidential immunity Thursday. Two moments standout as especially jarring, for totally opposite reasons.

The first is Justice Samuel Alito going to the unthinkable place that without immunity presidents may just never leave the Oval Office:

The second is Ketanji Brown Jackson fully appreciating the real impact of Alito’s ahistorical line of thinking:

Others also still sifting through the rubble of that oral argument:

  • Steve Vladeck:  “I’m worried because there appear to be five or more justices who think that they have an obligation to do more than is required in the instant case—apparently without regard for the very real institutional and political costs such a move could (and, I fear, would) incur.”
  • Politico: Trump immunity fight turns Supreme Court textualists topsy-turvy
  • Marty Lederman: A few preliminary reactions to the oral argument in Trump v. United States

An Especially Chilling Death Penalty Case

Chris Geidner reports on an unusual case where the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma can’t convince a state court to throw out a death row inmate’s conviction, despite admitted prosecutorial misconduct, so is now seeking relief from the Supreme Court.

2024 Ephemera

  • WaPo: “Former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met privately Sunday morning in Miami, according to people familiar with the matter, breaking a years-long chill between the presumptive Republican nominee and his onetime chief primary rival.
  • MI-Sen: Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) has dropped out of the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
  • NYT: Donald Trump Has Never Sounded Like This
  • Sign of the times:

Strange Times

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