What On Earth Could George Santos Possibly Be Charged With?

INSIDE: E. Jean Carroll ... Tucker Carlson ... Clarence Thomas
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) watches proceedingsin the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) watches proceedingsin the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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`Morning Memo is coming to you today from the fine city of Philadelphia. I was reminiscing about my first visit, back in 1993, when I improbably won a radio contest on David Dye’s still-newish World Cafe program. The prize was a trip to Philly and front-row seats for WXPN’s “5 Star Night” concert: Jackson Browne, Los Lobos, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson and Suddenly, Tammy! Always good to be here.

That Was A Blast Of News

It wasn’t exactly a quiet afternoon yesterday in the ol’ virtual newsroom, with Jean Carroll winning a whopping $5 million verdict against Donald Trump while President Biden was confronting debt-ceiling hostage-taker Kevin McCarthy, who emerged from their White House meeting to reports that Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is facing sealed charges in federal court in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, we were jamming on another juicy story I can’t tell you about yet.

George Santos: An American Failure Story

It’s a measure of the comic villainy of Rep. George Santos (R-NY) that half the news outlets in the known universe confirmed that he faces sealed federal charges in Brooklyn but can’t pinpoint which of the many potential vectors of criminal conduct they actually involve.

  • Is it the petty scheming and money-grubbing misdeeds from before he was elected to Congress?
  • Is it the bogus fundraising of his infamous pet charity?
  • Is it the SEC-accused Ponzi scheme he worked for?
  • Is it the $19 million luxury yacht deal he brokered between two of his campaign contributors?
  • Is it the many lies and fabrications he conjured about his own personal identity?
  • Is it weirdness from his first, unsuccessful campaign for Congress?
  • Is it the wild campaign finance irregularities in his second, winning congressional campaign?
  • Is it some kind of malfeasance in office?

So many options!

But I do think it’s reasonable, based on the reporting to date about what prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York have been investigating, that it involves his financial and campaign activities.

I hate making predictions and I’m not much of a betting man, but my hunch is that federal prosecutors would be most interested in any misdeeds around his winning congressional campaign because of the public interest involved but not mere penny ante campaign finance reporting violations. Given the degree of public exposure Santos has and the brazenness of his conduct, they would want higher-level fraud involved of some kind.

But no need to speculate! Santos could make a court appearance as early as today, according to reports. Though in his own highly unreliable telling, his professed lack of awareness is itself amusing: “This is news to me.”

Carroll Wins A Complete Public Vindication

I don’t know if E. Jean Carroll’s successful lawsuit against Donald Trump will end up being a landmark case for sex abuse victims, but it sure has some of the hallmarks of one.

Trump’s defense, such as it was, was a classic out of the old playbook in sex crimes cases. The victim was not to be believed because she didn’t behave in the moment or since in a way men imagine one should behave after a traumatic physical attack. She was “imperfect” as an object of desire (“She’s not my type”), as a victim of violent crime (“Why didn’t you scream?), as a survivor of sexual violence (how dare you now smile and find any joy in life?).

Carroll and her legal team confronted those old tropes head on. She embraced her so-called imperfections with head held high. Her lawyers didn’t shy away from the supposed imperfections and still mopped the floor with Trump.

A nine-member jury with six men on it came down with a verdict in her favor after fewer than three hours of deliberation. Does this represent a sea change? Perhaps.

The Debt Ceiling And The 14th Amendment

TPM’s alum Ryan Reilly resurrects some of his old reporting for TPM a dozen years ago when we last had a GOP-created debt-ceiling crisis.

Morning Memo In The News

I talked with WBUR senior political reporter Anthony Brooks about CNN’s bad decision to host tonight’s “town hall” with Donald Trump.

Harlan Crow Rebuffs Senate Finance Committee

Billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow refuses to answer Senate Finance Committee questions about his gifts to Justice Clarence Thomas.

Still Waiting

For those keeping track, the Senate Judiciary Committee has still not subpoenaed Justice Clarence Thomas or Harlan Crow.

Tucker Carlson Struggles To Remain A Relevant Racist

The fall from the high perch of Fox News is hard.

As Nicole Lafond put it, with tongue very much in cheek: “Tucker Carlson is scooping up his massive viewership and taking his show to Elon Musk’s janky, zombified Twitter.”

Even Norway Is Struggling With EV Charging Infrastructure

I love my EV, but three years in I’m still surprised by how much the public charging infrastructure is lagging behind EV adoption. Apparently that’s a problem even in Norway, the world leader in the EV transition.

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