What Does The Newest Wrinkle In The MAL Probe Mean?

INSIDE: Ron DeSantis ... Robert Hanssen ... Ted Cruz
FBI photo of classified records allegedly found during its raid of Mar-a-Lago
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Wait, A FLORIDA Grand Jury?

The day’s coverage of the Mar-a-Lago documents case was focused on Trump’s legal team meeting with Special Counsel Jack Smith at Main Justice. But the interesting new tidbit that emerged had nothing to do with that high-profile meeting.

New reporting yesterday emerged that Smith has been running a federal grand jury in Florida under the radar in tandem with the DC federal grand jury where most of the action in the Mar-a-Lago case has been.

The reporting was somewhat threadbare, but here’s what’s been pieced together:

  • WSJ: “In recent days, Smith’s prosecutors have also sought testimony related to the documents probe before a grand jury in southern Florida, in what some people familiar with the process said appeared to be an effort to tie up several loose ends.”
  • WaPo: “In addition, testimony from at least one witness related to the documents probe has also been sought by Smith’s investigators before a federal grand jury in southern Florida, a jurisdiction that includes Mar-a-Lago, a person familiar with the investigation said.”
  • NYT: “Prosecutors are expected to question a new witness in front of a federal grand jury sitting in Florida later this week, according to people familiar with the matter. At least one other witness has already appeared before the Florida grand jury, which is separate from the one that has been sitting for months in Washington. It is not clear why a second grand jury is taking testimony in Florida.”

For a few weeks now, I’ve been telling you that Smith’s core investigative work has been largely completed and a charging decision is imminent. That’s mostly still true, but the not-previously-known activity of the Florida grand jury – which is scheduled to hear witnesses tomorrow – is good reason to be very careful about making predictions about the timing and nature of any charges in the case.

Why a Florida grand jury?

Legal commentators were quick to note the venue issue. Will Smith be able to make his case in DC, which nearly everyone considers a more favorable venue for prosecutors than South Florida, or will he be forced to proceed on Trump’s home turf? I won’t get into the complicated legal analysis, but it requires analyzing a complex interconnected series of factors, including the underlying conduct, where it occurred, which defendant is charged, and the laws being charged.

I don’t have any special insight here, but I would remind you that many observers consider it likely that Trump will not be the only person charged. Most of the analysis of the venue question has been focused on Trump since he’s the big fish, but venue for other defendants may be even harder to establish in DC, which means Smith could need a Florida grand jury for them.

The main takeaway here though remains that we simply don’t know yet the full scope of Smith’s probe let alone all the particulars. While indictments in the next few days still seems likely, be wary of what we don’t know.

You Truly Can’t Make This Up

PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 14: In this aerial view, former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen on September 14, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s legal team is currently negotiating with the Justice Department regarding the selection of a Special Master to review documents, some marked Top Secret, seized when the FBI searched the compound. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CNN:

An employee at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort’s swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

While it’s unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious.

At least one witness has been asked by prosecutors about the flooded server room as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the sources.

Texas Sheriff Wants Criminal Charges For DeSantis Migrant Flights

The Bexar County, Texas sheriff is recommending criminal charges arising from the migrant flights organized by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last year. The recommended charges include both misdemeanor and felony unlawful restraint. The charging decision will be made by the county prosecutor, who now has the sheriff’s completed investigation.

Another Migrant Flight Lands In Sacramento

On the same day a Texas sheriff recommended criminal charges for the first round of DeSantis migrant flights, another round of flights from Texas to California continued, prompting threats of criminal prosecution there, too, from angry state officials who are accusing DeSantis of being behind this stunt. For his part, DeSantis isn’t claiming responsibility or denying his involvement.

The GOP War On Transgender People

Notorious Spy Robert Hanssen Dies In Prison

The identification and business card of former FBI agent Robert Hanssen are seen inside a display case at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, May 12, 2009. Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison without parole for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia while he worked for the FBI. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Robert Hanssen, perhaps the single most damaging spy against the United States, was found unresponsive in his jail cell at the SuperMax prison in Florence, Colorado, where he was serving a life sentence. He was 79.

Major Ukrainian Dam Breached

A major hydroelectric project on the Dnipro River in Ukraine has been breached, unleashing significant flooding downstream.

Atmospheric CO2 At New Record Level

Guess We Won’t Hear Much About This

The Atlantic: The Murder Rate Is Suddenly Falling

Couldn’t Happen To Nicer Folk

The voter fraud hucksters at True The Vote, which we’ve covered since its infancy more than a decade ago, are accused of using the organization to enrich themselves.

George Santos Falls On Sword For Mystery Donors

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has told a judge he’d rather be taken into custody pre-trial than reveal the donors who co-signed on his $500,000 bond.

2024 Ephemera

  • TPM’s Kate Riga: Republican Presidential Candidates Show What A Dangerous Issue Abortion Is For Them
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will launch his quixotic campaign for the GOP nomination for president tonight in New Hampshire.

Just Making Things Up As He Goes

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