It Takes A Village Where No One Is Above The Law To Bring Down A Tyrant

INSIDE: Matt Gaetz ... MTG ... Mike Johnson
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump walks out to speak to reporters at the end of the day as jury selection continues at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 18, 202... NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18: Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump walks out to speak to reporters at the end of the day as jury selection continues at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 18, 2024 in New York City. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 presidential election. Trump is first former U.S. president to face trial on criminal charges. (Photo by Jabin Botsford - Pool/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.

Let Me Get Earnest For A Moment

In all the ink that Morning Memo has spilled on Trump’s threat to the rule of law, there is an implied exhortation to prosecutors, judges, lawyers, and others to do their damn jobs without fear or favor and not shrink from the current moment.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned it’s that the legal system alone isn’t enough if there doesn’t remain enough civic spirit to sustain it.

A professionalized legal system, a long legal tradition, and all of the procedural formalities and structures to support, enforce and consistently apply the rule of law isn’t by itself sufficient if the body politic has abandoned the principles that undergird the entire endeavor.

So it has warmed my heart this week to hear multiple prospective jurors in the Trump hush-money case assert that no one is above the law. As a statement of fact, that is unassailable. But it’s more important as a civic virtue. It states an expectation and an aspiration for who we are and what we want to be.

Nothing is quite as succinct a distillation of the American revolutionary experience: No one is above the law. (Where we have been at our worst is putting people – enslaved peoples, minorities, women, immigrants – outside of the law.) We are seeing random citizens who are imbued with an innate understanding of what the rule of law means. That civic-minded understanding of the rule of law is the bedrock foundation for the legal structures we erect upon it. Without it, we have nothing. It’s a small sign of hope in a troubled time.

What Happened In Court Thursday

The main news of the day was that a jury of 12 was selected, but it was a little bumpy getting there. The day started with 7 jurors already selected, but by midday that number had shrunk to 5. But by day’s end, the initial 12 were picked and the selection of alternate jurors had begun.

The original Juror #2 withdrew partly over concerns that she had already been identified publicly or nearly so. Geez, I wonder how:

Another juror showed up late and was removed for unknown reasons, but prosecutors suggested the juror had not answered truthfully when asked about past arrests.

Selection of the six alternates continues today, and we look on track to begin the trial proper early next week.

For more on yesterday’s developments:

  • TPM’s Josh Kovensky: Trump Takes Aim At Concept Of Impartiality In Jury Selection
  • NYT: After Reports About Trump Jurors, Judge Demands Restraint From the Press
  • Politico: Trump spent the day listening to strangers insult him. And he couldn’t say a single thing back.

Trump Unbound

Prosecutors identified what they claim are seven new violations by Trump of the gag order against him in the hush-money case. The judge will take up the alleged gag order violations Wednesday in a separate hearing while the trial is in recess.

What Will History Say?

I vacillate between two poles on this question. Will future generations ask “What did you do to fight the fascism, grandma?” or will they be more likely to be incredulous: “What the hell was wrong with ya’ll – THIS guy was a threat?”

Aileen Cannon Makes A Decision!

With many unresolved motions backed up in her queue, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon managed to dispense with a couple of fairly minor motions to dismiss in the Mar-a-Lago case. But don’t worry. She still hasn’t ruled on several of the major pending motions or set a trial date. So we’re still in a legal Neverland in this case.


WaPo: “A top leader of the national conservative group Turning Point Action, which has amplified false claims of election fraud by former president Donald Trump and others, resigned Thursday after being accused of forging voter signatures on official paperwork so that he could run for reelection in the Arizona House.”

I See …

ABC News: Matt Gaetz attended 2017 party where minor and drugs were present, woman’s sworn statement obtained by Congress claims

MTG Makes Me Nostalgic For Michele Bachmann

Philip Bump: Marjorie Taylor Greene would like to remind us that she is not serious


  • TPM’s Khaya Himmelman: Constitutional Sheriffs Group Plans To Insert Itself Into More Aspects Of The Voting Process In 2024
  • Politico: Trump campaign says it will deploy thousands of election workers to monitor poll sites

Abortion Will Be On The Ballot In Nevada, Too

The Nevada Supreme Court cleared the way for an abortion rights amendment to the state Constitution to be on the November ballot as part of a complicated two-step process to win approval: “Putting the language into the Nevada Constitution requires voter approval in two consecutive elections. If the ballot initiative passes a first time, it would go to a vote again in 2026. If approved again, it would become law.”

Ukraine Aid Moves Forward In House

With unusual help from Democrats, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) moved a foreign aid package that includes relief for embattled Ukraine one step closer to a final vote late last night – and put himself potentially closer to losing his speakership.

Johnson got the package through the House Rules Committee only because of Democratic votes. A final floor vote could some as early as Saturday. At this point, with all the usual caveats, the package does look likely to pass.

For more on Johnson’s about-face on Ukraine:

  • Greg Sargent: Mike Johnson’s Shockingly Pro-Ukraine Speech Really Sticks It to MAGA
  • WSJ: Mike Johnson Opposed Ukraine Aid. Then He Risked His Job for It.

Quote Of The Day

There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024, or at least put Putin in a position where he could essentially dictate the terms of a political settlement.

CIA Director William Burns


WaPo: Secret Russian foreign policy document urges action to weaken the U.S.

Israel Strikes Inside Iran Overnight

Based on early reports, Israel’s retaliation inside Iran for the drone and missile attack last weekend on Israel seems relatively limited. A rundown of the major headlines:

  • WSJ: Israel Strikes Iran in Narrow Attack Amid Escalation Fears
  • NYT: Muted Initial Response to Strike Suggests Iran and Israel Want to Avoid Escalation
  • Bloomberg: Israel Debates If Reported Strike on Iran Was Big Enough

Have A Good Weekend!

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