A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Accountability Is Finally At Hand
As we mark the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, it can finally be said with high confidence that a credible, comprehensive criminal investigation of the conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election is fully underway.
Combined with the work of the House Jan. 6 committee, a degree of accountability for the coup attempt is at hand.
For a long time, months if not a year, it wasn’t at all clear we would get to this point.
The anniversary has prompted a flurry of new reporting on the ongoing investigations.
Let’s dive in.
Tantalizing Tidbits On Jack Smith’s Investigations
Bloomberg’s Zoe Tillman has some new reporting on the status of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations, much of it based on anonymous sourcing. Some of the highlights:
- “He’s set to make critical decisions about whether to bring charges, possibly in a matter of weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.”
- “The special counsel’s office and Justice Department leaders realize that the historic investigations and the potential for politically explosive indictments and trials will collide with the 2024 presidential election calendar as the year goes on, according to people familiar.”
- “Investigators are also going through deposition transcripts provided by the now-defunct congressional committee and will have to decide if they want to bring in any of those witnesses for more questioning or to testify before a grand jury. “
Smith Brings On New Attorneys
While Special Counsel Jack Smith has mostly kept intact the same prosecutors and investigators that were handling the investigations before his appointment, CNN reports he has brought on two new lawyers to the team:
He is adding two longtime associates who have specialized in public corruption cases, according to a person familiar with the matter: Raymond Hulser, the former chief of the DOJ’s public integrity section, and David Harbach, who conducted cases against former Sen. John Edwards and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Things That Make You Go Hmmm …
Politico senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney has done a commendable job tracking some of the secret litigation surrounding the DC grand jury investigations into Jan. 6. This morning he has some intriguing new filings at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that suggest a new round of fights over the grand juries’ work. This thread is worth a read:
Marking The Jan. 6 Anniversary
- In a White House ceremony today, President Biden will award the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian honor, to a dozen familiar figures who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 or fought off the Big Lie to defend the 2020 election results.
- WaPo: Supporters raise millions to rebrand Jan. 6 rioters as ‘patriots’
- The FBI has increased the reward from $100,000 to $500,000 for information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for placing pipe bombs near RNC and DNC headquarters the day before the Capitol attack. The case remains unsolved.
- The biggest investigation in FBI history continues to grow.
- The estate of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a series of strokes shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against former President Trump and two Capitol rioters.
The Link Between Jan. 6 And The Speaker Fight
This hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves, but some of the figurative insurrectionists within Kevin McCarthy’s conference were also the literal insurrectionists on Jan. 6. You know some of the names: Perry, Gosar, Gohmert. Politico has a good rundown on the crossover between the two.
What Hath Kevin McCarthy Wrought?
With Kevin McCarthy having lost 11 straight ballots for House speaker, we’re deep into uncharted waters, at least since the first half of the 19th century. The speaker fight has been an amazing window into radicalization of the modern Republican Party, but we’re still coming to grips with the implications of one chamber of Congress basically ceasing to exist while it tries to organize itself:
- Michael C. Dorf: What the Constitution Has to Say About the Election of a Speaker of the House
- WaPo: Does the House even exist right now?
- AP: US House has no members
- Politico: The natsec implications of the speaker fight
- WaPo: Has McCarthy given up his House speaker powers before he’s even won?
- Dennis Aftergut: The Chaotic House That SCOTUS Built
My Oh My Oh My Oh My
CPAC honcho Matt Schlapp has been credibly accused of groping a male staffer for Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign back in October, the Daily Beast is reporting in a story out last night. Schlapp, through his attorney, is denying the allegation.
“Matt Schlapp of the CPAC grabbed my junk and pummeled it at length, and I’m sitting there thinking what the hell is going on, that this person is literally doing this to me,” the staffer said in a video he recorded shortly after the alleged incident.
The staffer, who remains unnamed in the story, credits the Walker campaign with handling the incident professionally.
Trump Ordered To Cough Up Names Of Private Investigators In MAL Case
Former President Trump must provide to prosecutors the names of the private investigators who conducted a search on his behalf for additional classified documents he may have retained post-presidency, the chief federal judge in Washington, D.C. has ordered.
5th Circuit Blocks Deposition of Jen Psaki
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has once again fired a warning shot across the bow of a federal district judge in Louisiana who has become a favored venue for Republican attorneys general challenging the Biden administration:
The order on Thursday afternoon from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is another not-so-veiled rebuke to District Court Judge Terry Doughty, who has been overseeing the suit the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana filed last year claiming that the administration’s pressure on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was so intense that it amounted to censorship.
To summarize, the district judge was so out of line that even the uber-conservative 5th Circuit is having to reel him in.
Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is writing a memoir` for Random House. It is titled “Lovely One,” which is the English translation of Jackson’s given and middle names: Ketanji Onyika, suggested by an aunt who at the time was a Peace Corps worker in West Africa.
Huge News Though It Might Not Seem Like It
The FTC is boldly stepping into a huge area of employment law: noncompete clauses for employees. Historically disfavored by law as an unfair trade practice, the courts have carved out so many exceptions in recent decades that noncompete clauses have become ubiquitous. Now the FTC is proposing to ban them.
Latest On Dem Presidential Primary Schedule
President Biden’s preferred calendar for the 2024 presidential primary season is encountering some speed bumps in Georgia and New Hampshire.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano resumed erupting Thursday afternoon, following a period of quiescence since mid-December:
Sizable bright orange lava fountain and fast moving flows visible during the first hour of the eruption from the Keanakākoʻi overlook. NPS video/Janice Wei pic.twitter.com/ThMxKEEcY4— Hawaii Volcanoes NPS (@Volcanoes_NPS) January 6, 2023
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