A Presidential Election Unlike Any Other Is Upon Us

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Michael Cohen ... Wayne LaPierre
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 11: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is seen during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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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.

Welcome Back

Greetings! Hope you had a refreshing and fulfilling holiday season, maybe even a little time away, because the election year is now upon us. We are plunging directly into the thick of things, with the Iowa GOP caucus just two weeks away.

It will be an election year unlike any other, with democracy on the ballot like never before, with the leading opposition candidate currently facing more than 90 criminal charges, with a former president seeking to regain the White House for the first time since Grover Cleveland, and with the two main candidates’ combined ages of more than 158 putting their own mortality front and center.

TPM is going to take a different approach to covering this election. We’ve always shied away from the pedantic horserace coverage, but this year in particular such coverage fails to meet the moment. The braindead, gaffe-driven, optics-obsessed coverage of the TV-news era was always a public disservice, but in the current environment it enables Trump and Trump wannabes and obscures the stakes.

If you’re focused on the ages of the candidates instead of the criminal prosecutions of Trump, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re clutching your pearls over whether voters will “tolerate” lawfully enforcing the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause and declaring Trump ineligible for the presidency, instead of focused on what Trump II would entail for the Republic, you’ve got your head in the sand. If you’re assuming Trump will abide by the results of the 2024 election if he loses, where have you been?

The GOP Is A Threat To The Rule Of Law

Former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have each pledged to pardon Donald Trump if they are elected president and he is criminally convicted.

Jack Smith Eviscerates Trump’s Immunity Claim

A well-written and strongly argued brief from Special Counsel Jack Smith to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that Donald Trump’s claims of presidential immunity from prosecution “threaten to undermine democracy.” The appeals court hears oral argument in the fast-tracked appeal next week.

Maine SoS Targeted In Attempted Swatting

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D), who disqualified Trump from the GOP primary ballot last week, was not home Friday night when a hoax caller told police he had broken into her house.

What Will Aileen Cannon Do Now?

An over-the-top legal filing from Donald Trump opposing setting an early deadline for him to invoke an advice-of-counsel defense in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case tees up another chance for U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to torpedo her own trial date.

Sheer Brainiac

Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is asking a federal judge for mercy after he gave his lawyer what turned out to be bogus cases from the artificial intelligence program Google Bard to use in a legal filing — and was called out by the judge.

The NRA’s Long-Awaited Comeupance

New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the Wayne LaPierre and three other NRA insiders over claims of mismanagement and corruption is set to go to trial today.

ICYMI

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) vetoed a bill that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors.

Which EVs Qualify For Tax Credits In 2024

The IRS released a (very short) list of the EVs that qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 in 2024. Caveat: The tax credit is still available for leasing EVs regardless of where the car and its components were built.

The Year That Was

An almanac of 2023 and climate change:

The year included the hottest single day on record (July 6) and the hottest ever month (July), not to mention the hottest June, the hottest August, the hottest September, the hottest October, the hottest November, and probably the hottest December. It included a day, Nov. 17, when global temperatures, for the first time ever, reached 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial levels.

Israel Supreme Court Nixes Part Of Bibi’s Judicial Overhaul

AP:

Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a key component of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul Monday, delivering a landmark decision that could reopen the fissures in Israeli society that preceded the country’s ongoing war against Hamas. …

In Monday’s decision, the court narrowly voted to overturn a law passed in July that prevents judges from striking down government decisions they deem “unreasonable.”

For Your Radar …

Iran has deployed a destroyer to the Red Sea after the U.S. Navy thwarted a Houthi attack on commercial shipping over the weekend.

ANKARA, TURKIYE – DECEMBER 31: An infographic titled ‘US Navy helicopters sink Houthi boats in Red Sea’ created in Ankara, Turkiye on December 31, 2023. US Navy responded to an attempt by four vessels from Houthi-controlled areas to board the Maersk Hangzhou, deploying helicopters and sank three small boats. (Photo by Elmurod Usubaliev/Anadolu via Getty Images)

South Korean Oppo Leader Survives Assassination Attempt

Lee Jae-myung, 59, the leader of South Korea’s Democratic Party, remains hospitalized in stable condition with what are reported to be non-life-threatening injuries after being stabbed in the neck by a 66-year-old man during a visit to Busan.

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – JANUARY 02: (EDITORS NOTE: The identity of people in this image has been obscured at the request of the image source; image pixelated by source) In this handout image provided by The Busan Daily News, Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, lies down after he was attacked by an assailant of his neck during a visit to the construction site of an airport on January 02, 2024 in Busan, South Korea. Lee, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, was stabbed in the neck by an assailant while speaking to the media in the southern city of Busan. Lee survived and is in a stable condition at a local hospital. (Photo by The Busan Daily News via Getty Images)

Death Toll In Japan Quake Nears 50

The magnitude 7.6 quake on the Noto Peninsula has killed at least 48 people after it collapsed buildings, ignited fires, and triggered tsunamis.

TOPSHOT – People walk past a badly damaged house in the city of Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, on January 2, 2024, a day after a major 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture. Japanese rescuers battled against the clock and powerful aftershocks on January 2 to find survivors of a major earthquake that struck on New Year’s Day, killing at least 48 people and causing widespread destruction. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

A Tragic Sidenote To The Japan Quake

TOPSHOT – This photo provided by Jiji Press shows a Japan Airlines plane on fire on a runway of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on January 2, 2024. A Japan Airlines plane was in flames on the runway of Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on January 2 after apparently colliding with a coast guard aircraft, media reports said. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo by STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

A Japan Airlines passenger jet collided on the ground at a Tokyo airport with a Japan Coast Guard plane delivering earthquake relief supplies. All 379 passengers and crew safely evacuated the airliner before it was engulfed in flames. Five of the six crew aboard the Coast Guard plane perished in the crash.

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Notable Replies

  1. A giant pity party
    Poor, pitiful conservatives: How the right’s counterfeit victimhood narratives harm all of us (msn.com)
    For example, talking heads at Fox News tell their viewers every night that they are victims of ruthless, power-hungry and uncaring liberal elites. They present to their audience some version of “They want to replace you with immigrants and people of color.They don’t care about you.”

    While it may be true that conservatives suffer genuine victimization by virtue of jobs moving overseas, wages stagnating, communities fragmenting, health care becoming unaffordable, a perceived increase in crime and growing wealth inequality, it is also transparently false that these sources of legitimate suffering reflect a plot by liberal elites to “replace” them.

    Consider former Fox News star Tucker Carlson’s opening monologue from 2022, in which he opposed aid to Ukraine while seeking to stir up feelings of grievance in irrational, dangerous and counterfeit ways:

    There is nothing in the world worse than finding out that your deepest fears are justified…. That’s the nightmare scenario, that there really is a zombie in the closet…. Let’s say you’re a kid and you’ve convinced yourself that your parents really don’t love you… They claim they do, but you can tell they don’t really mean it, that they aren’t being sincere…. And then one Christmas morning, confirmation! …

    You discover that they’ve forgotten to buy you presents … it just slipped their mind. Instead, they spent all their time andall their money buying gifts for a kid down the street that you don’t even know. … So all the things that you asked for, they gave to another 9-year-old…. Well, how would that make you feel? You would be crushed but you would also be vindicated … you would know with dead certainty that your parents really didn’t love you…. They’re not really even very interested in you.

    That’s how a lot of Americans felt last night watching the House of Representatives approve another aid package to Ukraine.… Nothing against Ukraine, but we could probably use a lot of that money here right now.

  2. Stupidest comment over the long weekend
    Ohio woman Brittany Watts, 33, speaks out after she was charged with felony abuse of a corpse following miscarriage | Daily Mail Online

    She just needed to read the damn chart

    What are women genetically programmed to do with a miscarriage? Do they throw it away, flush it, call the police, call the doctor, call 911, take it to a hospital, or bury it in the backyard?

    And does this change based on size or number of weeks?

    Is there an official chart and diagram women get?

  3. Thank you, David Kurtz!

    Hope is a discipline.

    I’m excited to be part of the most important political battle of my life.
    This election needs all hands on deck.

    Let’s do this thing!

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