How Donald Trump Is A Menace To The Rule Of Law Right Now

INSIDE: Hunter Biden ... Mitch McConnell ... Ron DeSantis
Fort Washington, MD - March 4 : Former President Donald J. Trump speaks on the third and final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on S... Fort Washington, MD - March 4 : Former President Donald J. Trump speaks on the third and final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on Saturday, March 04, 2023, in Fort Washington, MD. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via 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.

It’s Already Happening

The risk of Donald Trump being elected President again and abusing the powers of the office to exact revenge and secure retribution against his perceived enemies is already having profound effects on the rule of law.

Yesterday’s highly unusual collapse of the Hunter Biden plea agreement was directly related to the menace Trump poses if he retakes the office he was already twice impeached for abusing.

What stands out most about the awkward and bizarre proceedings in Delaware yesterday is that Hunter Biden’s legal team and federal prosecutors were trying to arrive at a workaround that would prevent him from being targeted by a future Trump White House.

At issue initially was how far-reaching is the immunity Hunter Biden would receive under the deal. Prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s team disagreed about what they had originally negotiated. Plea hearings are usually routine, and it is not common at all for defendants and prosecutors to arrive in court with this kind of misunderstanding not already resolved. That was odd enough.

But in reviewing the reports on the hearing and the transcript it’s clear that what ultimately held things up was the judge’s concerns about the framework of the agreement that was clearly designed to provide Hunter Biden with some protection from a future Trump presidency and a subsequent DOJ run amok. (For a deeper summary, I’d recommend Joyce Vance.)

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika was rightly concerned that the proposed workaround would insert the judicial branch into what is exclusively executive branch territory. That was especially ironic since she had just shot down an attempt by the legislative branch – in the form of the House GOP – to weigh in on the plea agreement.

Noreika, a Trump appointee (but it should be said she conducted the plea hearing carefully, professionally and without any hint of partisanship), declined to ratify the plea agreement and ordered the parties to submit written briefs.

Trump has already injected a curdling effect on the rule of law into the minds of anyone – investigators, partisan foes, public targets of his enmity – likely to be on the receiving end of his abuses of power. But now we see his influence manifesting in ways that are forcing prosecutors and judges to deal with it.

That Trump can have this kind of corrosive effect while out of office is a harbinger of what Trump II would look like.

Indictment Watch

  • NBC: Trump teams prepare for possible Thursday grand jury vote
  • Liz Dye: Trump’s aggressive legal strategies keep backfiring spectacularly
  • If you’re getting impatient and need an indictment fix: “A key suspect in an alleged plot to illegally access Michigan voting machines following the 2020 presidential election says she has been indicted in the long-running probe and expects to be arraigned next week.”

Chris Krebs Interviewed By Jack Smith’s Team

The election security official who defended the integrity of the 2020 election and was shortly thereafter fired by then-President Donald Trump confirms he has spoken with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team investigating Jan. 6.

Their Silence Speaks Volumes

AJC: Republicans behind Giuliani’s Georgia hearings mum on his false statements

Hard To Watch

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s apparent medical episode during a Hill press conference Wednesday revealed a man far more feeble and halting than before his fall, brain injury, and long hospitalization earlier this year:

McConnell had another fall earlier this month while disembarking from an airplane at Reagan National Airport, NBC News is reporting.

GOP Feuding I

Florida’s lone black congressman, the reliably conservative Byron Donalds, was put on full blast by Team DeSantis after he questioned the state’s new African American history curriculum, saying “the attempt to feature the personal benefits of slavery is wrong & needs to be adjusted.” Donalds has endorsed Trump in 2024.

GOP Feuding II

A local GOP official in North Carolina has been accused of assault by a fellow Republican Amy Churchill, a school board member who was censured last month by the county GOP. The alleged incident happened Monday at a meeting of the Buncombe County GOP:

[Buncombe County GOP Chairman Doug] Brown initially told Churchill he was “glad to see you here,” she told Asheville Watchdog in an exclusive interview, and then questioned why she was at the GOP meeting, her first since being censured — a formal expression of the party’s severe disapproval of her actions.

Brown then became “very agitated,” Churchill said, and slammed the door on her when she entered a hallway.

In a complaint she filed with Asheville Police, Churchill wrote, “(I) stated that his behavior was rude, (Brown) stated that he had had enough of me and placed hands forcefully on (my) upper arms, shoulder area and proceeded to forcefully shove (me) multiple times without removing hands and moved (me) backwards.” She said she had to “apply pressure” to her back right heel to keep from falling.

Ya Don’t Say?

WaPo: Trump needed $225 million. A little-known bank came to the rescue.

2024 Ephemera

Oh, FFS:

‘If This Is True’

The oleaginous Ted Cruz bookends his remarks with “if this is true” – which apparently is enough to just make up whatever you want and insert it between the disclaimers:

Good Read

ProPublica: How The Ultrawealthy Use Private Foundations To Bank Millions In Tax Deductions While Giving The Public Little In Return

Sinéad O’Connor, 1966-2023

Irish singer Sinead O’Connor performs at Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 16 March 1988. (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for bdtex bdtex says:

    First. Mum on Rudy. They know he’s screwed and there’s no defending him.

  2. Mr. Trump is such a nice young man. I don’t for the life of me understand why all the commie pinko Dems don’t like him. He’s such a breath of fresh air, a basket of light, an ice cold Coors on a hot summer’s day, more akin to Jesus than anyone in either party. God loves him! And so do we genuine real Americans.

    And at least compared to that racist piece of poo DeSantis, Trump is the best thing that ever happened to Blacks, Gays, Jews, Asians, and Whites. He’s the real deal Christian.

  3. GOP Senators Meet With Advocate For Even More Fossil Fuels | Crooks and Liars

    Timothy Cama wrote about the extraordinary phenomenon of the Senate GOP hosting a lunch speaker who argues that “more fossil fuel use will actually make the world a far better place,” with “higher environmental quality and less danger from climate.”

    Epstein, who leads the Center for Industrial Progress and has written books including “Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas — Not Less,” spoke with senators at a regularly scheduled lunch hosted by the Senate GOP’s Steering Committee, a conservative body led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that includes most of the conference.

    Cama ID’d several senators who toted away signed copies of the book, “including John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).”

    He also wrote “The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels.”

    As Froomkin points out, Republicans were “oohing and aahing” over a guy who, as energy expert Arthur E. Berman wrote for, doesn’t simply deny climate change, he believes that a sinister deep state shadow entity he calls the “mainstream knowledge system” controls the discourse over climate change.

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