Jack Smith Zeroes In On Trump’s Insane Oval Office Meeting

INSIDE: Walt Nauta ... Seb Gorka ... MTG
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing in the Oval Office of the White House in on October 10, 2018. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

This Is The Good Stuff

Special Counsel Jack Smith has been asking questions about that off-the-rails Oval Office meeting on Dec. 18, 2020, CNN reports. That crazy confab presaged the Jan. 6 attack and set the stage for a unprecedented run of lawlessness directed from and sanctioned by the Trump White House.

New details from CNN include:

  • Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the Dec. 18 at various times over the last few months, including fairly recently.
  • It came up in Rudy Giuliani’s proffer session with Jack Smith’s team, which we learn from CNN lasted for two days last month.
  • “Prosecutors have specifically inquired about three outside Trump advisers who participated in the meeting: former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, sources said.”

Just about a year ago, TPM’s Josh Kovensky did a long story about what we then knew about that crazy meeting. It was titled “The White House Meeting That Drove ‘Team Sane’ Insane.”

The meeting reportedly involved hours of screaming and insults, with some participants on the verge of tears from frustration and rage.

At the center of it was a battle to persuade Trump to do one thing: appoint Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate the election, setting off a chain of events that would include the federal government seizing voting machines.

After the meeting that night, which by nearly all accounts was a total shitshow, Trump posted perhaps his most famous tweet:

A tweet by former President Donald Trump appears on screen during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 9, 2022. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Where Does Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 Probe Stand?

A quick rundown.

Nauta Pleads Not Guilty

Trump valet and co-defendant Walt Nauta finally has himself a South Florida lawyer and after two delayed arraignments entered a not guilty plea in the Mar-a-Lago case.

Nauta’s local counsel is 34-year-old Sasha Dadan, a former public defender with very little experience in federal court. She ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat in 2018 as a Republican.


Yesterday’s Morning Memo mistakenly reported that Trump’s response to the government’s proposed trial schedule in the Mar-a-Lago case was due July 6. The deadline had actually been previously extended to July 10. Stay tuned.

Trump Prosecutors In MAL Case Face Threats


Far-right Trump supporters are posting the names of prosecutors and government workers online and yelling them at demonstrations, threatening them and sometimes revealing details about their personal lives, the experts said.

At the Justice Department, officials have responded by trying to keep the names of prosecutors and agents working the Trump cases from becoming public in official documents, congressional hearings and less formal conversations about the case.


Aaron Blake: Yes, Trump is getting more reckless on social media

Quote Of The Week

Don’t be such a political whore. I have no ide [sic] who you really are but TPM is a propaganda outfit for the Left who hate America. Here’s your quote: “Talking Points Memo are whores for the DNC.”

–former Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka

Biden Admin Seeks Stay In Social Media Case

The Justice Department asked a Trumpy federal judge in Louisiana to stay his controversial injunction preventing various components of the federal government from communicating with social media platforms while it appeals the order.

ATTN: Cable News Fearmongers

Shootings in New York City dropped by about 25 percent in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022, extending a nationwide downward trend following the pandemic spike in violent crime.

MTG Booted From Freedom Caucus … Last Month?

If the Freedom Caucus votes you out but it never gets announced publicly, does it even count?

2024 Ephemera

Just In …

The unemployment rate in May fell to 3.6 percent.

‘We Are In Uncharted Territory’

WaPo: Why a sudden surge of broken heat records is scaring scientists

Cherrypicking Your Way To An End

Jamelle Bouie: John Roberts and Clarence Thomas Have the ‘Colorblind’ Constitution All Wrong

Race-Based Scholarships Out, Too?

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision barring affirmative action in college admissions, the University of Kentucky and the University of Missouri System have said they will remove race as a factor in scholarship programs, too.

Your Weekend Read

This NYT Mag article came out while I was in the midst of the college admissions grind with my kids, and I’ve tried (without much success!) to get them and many other people I know to internalize its meaning and implications.

It’s pre-pandemic so a little dated now, but it remains a crucial perspective on how the economic realities of admissions policies undermine everything we think we know about it being a meritocracy. It’s especially relevant now in light of the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action and the renewed debate over legacy admissions.


We’ve hit our goal for the TPM Journalism Fund with an entire day to spare! Overnight, the counter creeped over the $500,000 mark. It was an incredibly ambitious goal, but with your generous help we got there. On behalf of everyone at TPM, thank you for your financial support. It means an awful lot to us. We won’t let you down.

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Notable Replies

  1. Meta’s Threads is fun. It’s like watching your friends walk into a party and rag on how bad that party we left was.

  2. Here’s my Charlie. He’s a little devil when he’s not sleeping.


  3. I’m allergic. If I post a cat pic, I might go into Anaphylaxis.

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