A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Trump’s Crumbling Defenses To The Bedminster Tape
The slow-motion release of the Bedminster tape over the past month has set multiple traps for former President Trump to make inconsistent, incomplete, contradictory, and ultimately comical statements about what the recording captured.
The timeline is simple:
May 31: CNN first reports on the existence of the audio recording.
June 8: A federal grand jury in Miami returns a sealed indictment against Trump describing the audio recording.
June 9: CNN and other news outlets obtain a transcript of the recording.
Also on June 9: The indictment is unsealed and made public.
June 26: CNN obtains and broadcasts the audio recording.
The release of the full audio recording seemed to cause a meltdown within Trump and TrumpWorld yesterday, which resulted in a round of defenses, excuse-making, and throwing up dust (scroll to the bottom) to try to obscure how damning it is.
It culminated in Trump declaring the latest truth is that he didn’t have any classified documents with him at all during the audio recording and that his real-time claims to the contrary were just “bravado.”
‘I’m A Legitimate Person’
Chris Hayes captures Trump’s decompensation well:
Everyone Is Focused On Bedminster Now
The audio tape’s release set off a new round of “What the heck happened at Bedminster?” reporting:
WaPo: It’s not just Mar-a-Lago: Trump charges highlight his New Jersey life
NYT: The Attention Was All on Mar-a-Lago. Some of the Action Was at Bedminster.
Is Nauta Being Used As Trump’s Delay Tactic?
Trump co-defendant Walt Nauta was supposed to be arraigned yesterday in south Florida, but he faced multiple flight cancellations and hasn’t yet found local counsel so the arraignment was postponed a second time, until next month.
Why hasn’t Nauta found local counsel yet? Accounts vary. The cancelled flights, according to some reports, meant Nauta didn’t make it to south Florida to interview prospective counsel. There was also a report that Nauta balked at the high price of representation, even though Trump is paying the bill.
It’s starting to smell like another delay tactic from Trump, but it’s a bit early to reach a firm conclusion.
Jack Smith Team Interviews Rudy Giuliani
A meeting between former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and members of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team happened at some point in recent weeks, CNN reports. The interview grew out of Smith’s investigation of the Jan. 6 higher-ups, but no more details were available.
Note that this was a voluntary interview with investigators, not testimony to the grand jury. Read into that what you will.
Trump Flails In Manhattan Hush Money Case
Donald Trump’s effort to remove the Manhattan criminal case over his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels from state court to federal court looks like it’s going nowhere. The dilatory tactic did arguably buy Trump some additional time, but it seems to have hit a dead end after a hearing in federal court Tuesday.
While the federal judge didn’t yet issue a formal ruling, he all but shot Trump down in open court:
Judge Hellerstein said that he saw no reason that a trial in state court couldn’t provide a “measure of justice” equal to a federal proceeding. He said that while his comments weren’t his final decision, they were his “current attitudes.” The judge all but said he would order that the case should stay in state court.
This came after Trump’s legal team flailed spectacularly in the hearing (the full thread here is worth a read):
And the fault was Team Trump’s. Not only did they violate a prior agreement with the DA’s office not to call live witnesses, but they called the chief legal officer of Trump’s business, who could not attest to some of their key points and made some damaging admissions. 10/— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) June 28, 2023
The upshot is the hush money case looks likely to stay in state court, and little time has been lost with this Trump sideshow.
Big, Big Pro-Democracy Ruling From SCOTUS
The high court put a decisive end to the cockamamie independent state legislature theory, which was birthed in the colossally bad Bush v. Gore decision and embraced by the slapdash Trump legal team in the aftermath of his 2020 loss.
It was the independent state legislature theory that placed outsized importance on blocking the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote, which in turn led to the attack on the Capitol.
Here’s how former Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig put it:
Who’s To Blame For the Near-Decapitation In Russia?
NYT: Russian General Knew About Mercenary Chief’s Rebellion Plans, U.S. Officials Say
WSJ: After Wagner Revolt, Questions of Blame in Vladimir Putin’s Inner Circle
It’s A Clown World
The desperation is starting to show even for the Trump talking heads:
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