Insecure, Indicted Man Checks In With His Friends

INSIDE: Pence ... Dominion ... Santos ... Biden's Teeth
STERLING, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 26: US President Donald Trump makes a phone call as he golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 26, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. President Trump stayed in Washington, DC this year fo... STERLING, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 26: US President Donald Trump makes a phone call as he golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 26, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. President Trump stayed in Washington, DC this year for Thanksgiving due the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/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.

Caught Off Guard

The New York Times and the Washington Post both used that same language last night to describe how Donald Trump and his team at Mar-a-Lago felt as news broke that the former president had been indicted by the Manhattan’s DA’s office. No one was expecting it.

While Trump has reportedly been in frequent communication in recent weeks with several of his friends on Capitol Hill who are using their new House majority to do little more than breathe life into Trump’s grievances, the former president reportedly spent his first night as an indicted man making sure his friendships weren’t fair-weather.

CNN had a series of reports late last night that Trump spent the evening calling his Capitol Hill allies, particularly those in House Republican leadership and those who are using their committee chairmanships to do his bidding. A senior Republican source familiar with the conversations reportedly told CNN that he specifically spoke with the lawmakers in charge of committees that are attempting to investigate Alvin Bragg’s office, which sounds like he spoke with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY).

During these “check-ins,” Trump reportedly assured his friends he would fight the charges as he vented about the indictment and Bragg.

While it is unclear who all Trump phoned last night, I have a sneaking suspicion that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may have made the cut. The senator, who recently mildly scolded Trump for making his first campaign rally a Jan. 6 redux sideshow, hopped onto Fox News last night to precisely parrot all of the right talking points to Sean Hannity’s loyal and Trumpy viewership.

Graham appeared enthusiastic, emotional even, as he urged viewers to donate to Trump’s campaign and described the indictment as a “ballot box” issue. Earlier in the night, Trump’s campaign not only released a statement chalking the whole indictment thing up to “Election Interference at the highest level in history,” his campaign also began fundraising off of the moment, selling $47 indictment t-shirts.

Even if they didn’t speak, the loyal foot soldiers clearly got the memo.

“They’re trying to drain him dry. He’s spent more money on lawyers than most people spent on campaigns,” Graham said to Hannity’s at-home viewers and live studio audience. “Go tonight. Give the president some money to fight this bullshit!”

“To those who are listening tonight: If you believe Trump is being treated poorly and wrongly, stand up and help the man,” Graham continued.

“Thank you,” Hannity replied as applause broke out in the studio.

What’s In The Indictment?

CNN seems to have the most extensive reporting on this topic, describing it as “more than 30 counts related to business fraud.” 

Barring any leaks, we should know more by Tuesday. But there will probably be leaks.

Some More Context

Now What? 

In case you haven’t seen yet, here are the details about how Trump’s surrender might work. 

  • The arraignment might take place on Tuesday, in Manhattan, per multiple outlets. 
  • CBS has more: “The plan is for the former president to fly to New York on Monday and be arraigned before Judge Juan Merchan the next day. The proceeding is expected to be brief. The charge or charges in the indictment would be read to him at that time. The sources noted that the planning is fluid and the date could change.”
  • Initially, Bragg’s office wanted Trump to surrender earlier — perhaps as soon as today, Politico’s Erica Orden reported. But Trump’s legal team pushed back, per the reporter,  saying that the Secret Service needed more time to arrange the hand off. 
  • The case may not go to trial for many months. 

Bragg’s Epic Feint? Or Did Something Change?

Just 24 hours ago, we were expecting no indictment for something like a month. 

The GOPer-With-A-Backbone Award Goes To ….

Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson.

His statement:

It is a dark day for America when a former President is indicted on criminal charges. While the grand jury found credible facts to support the charges, it is important that the presumption of innocence follows Mr. Trump. We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day. Finally, it is essential that the decision on America’s next President be made at the ballot box and not in the court system. Donald Trump should not be the next President, but that should be decided by the voters. 

What Does It Mean That DeSantis Plans To Fight It?

Not much? Florida has laws that give the governor the power to call for an investigation of an extradition request to determine “whether the person ought to be surrendered,” the New York Times reported. 

In the end, though, it’s not clear federal courts would care. Any attempt to hang onto Trump could violate the Constitution, multiple legal experts pointed out last night. 

Regardless, at the moment Trump’s plan is, reportedly, to surrender voluntarily. Meatball Ron seems happy to solicit and pocket the undeserved kudos from Trump fans wherever he can.

Trump Is, Of Course, Already Fundraising On His Indictment

TPM’s Hunter Walker has the details: “The t-shirt, which is emblazoned with today’s date, comes with a donation of at least $47.”

No GOPer-With-A-Backbone Award For Pence : (

In a live interview announced before the indictment, Pence was, per usually, extremely careful. He offered a roundabout tut tut over Trump’s glorification of Jan. 6. 

The indictment against Trump, meanwhile, is an outrage. 

Our Own Josh Marshall Weighs In


She Spills The Tea 

Abby Grossberg — a former Tucker Carlson producer who sued Fox News last week accusing the network of pressuring her into giving misleading testimony about their coverage of supposed election fraud — gave her first TV interview to NBC News on Thursday. She said she believes she was set up by the network to be a scapegoat in the Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit.

Grossberg — who was fired days after she filed the lawsuit — alleges Fox’s lawyers repeatedly coached her to avoid going into detail about higher-ups at the network. 

“I was flat out told, ‘You do not want to be the star witness in this case,’ when I was very truthful and forthcoming,” Grossberg said. “I realized that the answers that they wanted me to say were putting me in a very vulnerable position to be the company scapegoat.”

“They’re a big corporate machine that destroys people,” Grossberg added.

Its Baseball Time

Notorious Anti-Obamacare Judge Strikes Again

Judge Reed O’Connor issued an order Thursday that prevents the government from enforcing a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers provide preventative screenings for cancer and other conditions. More from Chris Geidner.

Paul Gosar Gives Life To Whatever This Is

House Republicans have gone after General Milley in the past for unfounded things like making the military too “woke” and embracing whatever their amorphous definition of “critical race theory” is. But this one takes the cake:

McCarthy Hops On The Pudding-And-Jello Train

Of course, these remarks are a performative bad faith for innumerable reasons, chief among them that:

  • House Republicans don’t actually have an agenda or a budget to propose cuts to, which Kate Riga unpacks here, and, 
  • House Republicans are the ones who took the budget hostage, as Josh Marshall reminds us here

But also, smooth move making elderly jokes about someone you claim you’re trying to negotiate with.

Also also, Biden, perhaps unexpectedly, has incredible teeth.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 21: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a ceremony honoring the recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medals and the 2021 National Medals of Arts in the East Room of the White House on March 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. The ceremony is the first for Biden, who was delayed in hosting the awards at the time due to the pandemic. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Not Great BuzzFeed Is Quietly Publishing Whole AI-Generated Articles, Not Just Quizzes

  • A representative sentence: “Now, I know what you’re thinking – ‘Cape May? What is that, some kind of mayonnaise brand?'”

Until the singularity, at least, TPM can offer you better. 

TPM reporter Emine Yücel contributed to today’s Morning Memo.

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