A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Branch Trumpinians Rally Around The Prophet
It’s been 30 years since the Waco siege, a touchstone for right-wing anti-government extremists.
On Saturday, Trump kicked off his campaign in Waco, an obviously sinister choice of venue. At one point, he held his hand over his heart as a video of the January 6 insurrection played in the background; for most of it, he went on about the injustices he currently faces before various elements of the legal system.
Here are a few choice quotes to give you a sense of the mood:
- On the investigations that beset him: “They’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you.”
- On his ability to escape eight years of investigation without charges: “[It] probably makes me the most innocent man in the history of our country.”
- On Ron DeSantis: “He’s dropping like a rock.”
- On a song performed by a choir of January 6 convicts: “That song tells you a lot because it’s number one in every single category. Number two was Taylor Swift, number three was Miley Cyrus.”
Of course, this is nothing new.
To Trump, for whom there is only triumph and disaster, all of the various investigations represent the latest and greatest injustices in American history.
But that somewhat toddler-like inability to separate self from surroundings has always struck me as a weird strength of Trump’s: his sense of personal grievance is so intense that it serves as a way for his followers to connect with him, establishing a bond which has come to form as one of the many bases for the cult of personality that surrounds him. The WWE-style performance only helps here.
Trump benefitted from this in 2016, acting as a canvas onto which people could impose their various grievances with the political system. It served as much as an energizer for him as it did to blunt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
But as his legal peril increases, Trump’s focus goes from the general to the particular. It does make me wonder if his endless focus on his own, very specific legal troubles will dilute the cult of personality that he’s built for himself.
This report from the local paper suggests that I am naive beyond belief, and that his supporters find him as engaging as ever.
And I’m usually not one for crowd-size analysis, but you can draw your own conclusions:
Indictment Watch Enters Week Two
The Manhattan grand jury that’s heard DA Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump is meeting on Monday. That alone will fuel speculation throughout the day that prosecutors may choose this very day to obtain an indictment of the former President. We’ll be following.
RIP To a Real One
The Texas Observer is shutting down after 68 years of publication.
It’s a real loss: a hard-hitting progressive, investigative publication with a humorous bent, the Observer is going out still publishing essential news on Texas politics and the border. One recent piece looked at grubby dealings around Gov. Greg Abbott (R)’s border wall, while another examined the impact of local anti-abortion laws on women’s health.
Tornado Devastates Mississippi Town
A massive tornado killed at least 26 people this weekend, and leveled much of Rolling Fork, Missisippi. Take it from the local paper here. The Washington Post has a good explainer of how rare the gargantuan twister was, and how it worked.
Fox Has Its Time In The Barrel
The ex-Tucker Carlson booker who sued Fox News last week filed new claims alleging that attorneys for the company tried to coerce her into giving false testimony in the Dominion lawsuit.
Peter Navarro Is Fighting For What, Exactly?
Peter Navarro, the Trump adviser under indictment for ignoring a House January 6 Committee subpoena, has refused in a separate lawsuit to return documents that he squirreled away as the Trump administration ended.
The DOJ replied below:
Who’s Afraid of the FAA?
Biden’s nominee to run the Federal Aviation Administration withdrew over the weekend after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) killed a committee vote on the nomination, putting her in league with Republicans who opposed nominee Phillip Washington. The pick received vociferous support from organized labor.
Washington was tanked partly by a suggestion that he was connected to a byzantine Los Angeles contracting scandal. The New York Times devoted multiple paragraphs to that issue in a December 2022 story about the nomination, but as LA-based journalist Alissa Walker points out, this may be another example of manufactured controversy coming from the right:
Khanna is Fine Where He Is
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) announced this weekend that he will not throw his hat in the ring for the California Senate primary. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have all announced that they’re running.
One AUMF Down?
The Senate will vote this week on repealing the Authorization for the Use of Military Force which allowed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
First Citizens Bank, a North Carolina-based lender, agreed to buy the remnants of Silicon Valley Bank, the FDIC said.
Massive rallies against Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial coup brought Israel to a standstill on Sunday evening. The country’s largest union declared a general strike; flights at Ben Gurion Airport were halted. Haaretz reports that Netanyahu is likely to put the judicial overhaul move on ice.
Take a look at the scale of the demonstrations:
Powerful Russians Admit: The War is Lost
One feature of politics in eastern Europe that we, happily, lack in the United States is that of the mysteriously sourced audio recording, typically collected by an internal intelligence agency before being leaked online or to the press.
A phone call between a former Russian senator and an influential music producer, both under western sanctions, appeared online this past week. It’s notable for how clear-eyed the two men are about what a disaster the war has been for Russia; they call it “fratricidal,” and at one point remark that Russia did not lose the war to the West, but rather to “Kvartal 95,” the comedy troupe of which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a member before entering politics.
A subtitled version is below:
That’s not to suggest the West doesn’t have its own problems in continuing to back Ukraine:
- Adam Tooze gives a lucid overview of the “nightmarish” macroeconomic tradeoffs that the war has presented Ukraine.
- One European munitions factory complains that it can’t expand production because a local TikTok server farm is sucking up all the power.
More Nuclear Saber-Rattling
Putin announced that Russia would open a new storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Perhaps not coincidentally, it comes after Finland cleared the last major hurdle to NATO accession last week.
Experts are skeptical.
Twitter Source Code Leaked Online
Twitter filed a copyright infringement suit on Friday, saying that swathes of its source code had been posted online.
Clock Ticking On Tik-Tok?
Tik-Tok is the heroin of social media apps, at once utterly addictive while completely devoid of content (in my humble opinion).
After a hearing last week that featured at least some easy-to-mock moments from members of Congress apparently unfamiliar with how the site works, Congress appears poised to restrict the app. What form that will take remains unclear.
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