A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
I Blame Lanny Davis
I’m pretty sure that the role of TV attorney – as opposed to actual attorney – for a high-profile political client originated with Lanny Davis during the Clinton impeachment.
What’s the TV attorney do? They confront the day-to-day chatter of the news cycle, fighting a PR battle more than a legal one. Their role as “attorney” for the client can be pretty tenuous. Other attorneys are often handling the actual legal work. The TV attorney is unlikely to see the inside of a grand jury room or a courtroom.
But being identified as an attorney for the client is catnip for cable news bookers. It confers instant cred and makes it seem like viewers are getting the inside scoop, compared to trotting out a mere spokesperson. Surely, the TV attorney must talk to the client, right? They must know the facts of the case from their own investigation, right? Maybe … maybe not. Oftentimes, the less the TV attorney knows the better for the client.
But the TV attorney has a role to play, and it usually involves being combative and pugnacious on cable news sets, cosplaying for a fleeting TV segment a dramatic version of what people might imagine a lawyer’s job is, with the show host as the foil.
All of this came back to me watching the new guy being paraded around as a Trump attorney in the Stormy Daniel hush money case: Joe Tacopina.
Tacopina has had previous high-profile clients and has seen the inside of a courtroom (he’s also a longtime owner of Italian pro soccer teams). But he’s made clear that the lead attorney for Trump in the hush money case is someone else: Susan R. Necheles.
In recent days, Tacopina has been saturating the airwaves, like this over-the-top appearance with Ari Melber earlier this week:
Tacopina is good on TV, the way the TV attorney is supposed to be, but has he been good for Trump? That’s dubious, with Tacopina at times seeming to make damaging admissions, showing a lack of familiarity with the facts of the case, and playing fast and loose with his interpretations of the law. Aaron Blake has a good breakdown of the TV defense Tacopina has mustered. It raises, shall we say, a lot of questions.
The irony of all this, for those not following the case closely, is that the key witness in the hush money case, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, is represented by none other than the progenitor of the TV lawyer role … Lanny Davis himself.
Michael Cohen Finishes Grand Jury Testimony
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen began his grand jury testimony Monday, appears to have skipped Tuesday, and completed it Wednesday, a total of some five hours of testimony.
Stormy Daniels Meets With Manhattan Prosecutors
The porn actress at the center of the hush money scheme met with prosecutors in Manhattan Wednesday, but did not testify to the grand jury. Her testimony, for what it’s worth, isn’t considered central to the case.
Trump Indictment Watch I
With Michael Cohen’s grand jury testimony completed and prosecutors having met with Stormy Daniels, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation appears wrapped up. When can we expect indictments? If Bragg is going to indict, it could come at any time now. Stay tuned.
Trump Indictment Watch II
Still nothing from Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis, but the AJC has a new exclusive based on interviews with five members of the special grand jury that investigated Trump’s 2020 election interference in the state.
DOJ Expects Hundreds More Jan. 6 Cases
Bloomberg with the scoop:
More than 1,000 additional people could still face charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, according to a letter to the DC federal court from the US attorney in Washington.
The one-page letter, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News, was sent late last year to the chief judge and hasn’t been previously reported.
Still Learning What Happened On Jan. 6
Some new sleuthing by Politico’s Kyle Cheney shows how close Jan. 6 came to being so much worse:
Deep Dives On Dominion v. Fox News
- Aaron Blake is still sifting through all the evidence made public by Dominion Voting Systems in its billion-dollar defamation suit against Fox News. He made a timeline!
- Also from the Post: At center of Fox News lawsuit, Sidney Powell and a ‘wackadoodle’ email
Peter Navarro Status Update
The pretrial wrangling in the contempt of Congress case against Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro grinds on, with an argument over executive privilege.
Boris Epshteyn And Steve Bannon Deserve Each Other
Marcy Wheeler with a closer look at the cryptocurrency scheme that Boris Epshteyn and Steve Bannon were both involved in and that the feds in the Southern District of New York are now investigating.
Bannon Buddy Arrested In NYC Then His Apartment Catches Fire
A crazy sequence of events yesterday in the case against Chinese exile and Steven Bannon crony Guo Wengui:
- The FBI raided Guo’s Fifth Avenue apartment before dawn Wednesday.
- Guo was arrested and charged with a billion-dollar fraud scheme.
- Later in the day, Guo made his first appearance in court and pleaded not guilty.`
- Around noon, firefighters were called to Guo’s 18th floor penthouse, where FBI agents had been conducting their investigation. No one was injured, but the apartment reportedly suffered significant damage.
The Guo-Bannon connection goes back a ways. It was on Guo’s yacht that Bannon was arrested back in 2020.
George Santos And A $19M Yacht
A $19 million luxury yacht deal brokered by Representative George Santos between two of his wealthy donors has captured the attention of federal and state authorities investigating the congressman’s campaign finances and personal business dealings.
The sale, which has not been previously reported, is one of about a dozen leads being pursued by the F.B.I., the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the Nassau County district attorney’s office, people familiar with the investigation said.
Worse Than George Santos?
The more we learn about Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN), the worse it gets. This is just beyond:
The Axios reporter fired for jousting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office talks with TPM’s Hunter Walker.
Yes, More On This Please
That extremely awkward video I flagged in yesterday’s Morning Memo is still reverberating: Philip Bump on how the unintentionally viral video of Bethany Mandel reinforces the hollowness of ‘woke’ as an attack line.
NYT: No, ‘Wokeness’ Did Not Cause Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse
Josh Marshall: A Quick Look at the Lying Trumpist Liars Behind that Database on Corporate Giving to “BLM”
Abortion Pill Hearing Recap
The court hearing on mifepristone that U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk tried to keep secret until the last minute went off without a hitch yesterday in Amarillo. TPM alum Tierney Sneed was there.
Pentagon Releases Vid Of Black Sea Incident
WaPo: Inside the movement to remake America’s city streets
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