A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
Aileen Cannon Forced Jack Smith’s Hand
Special Counsel Jack Smith in a new filing Tuesday outlined how it came to be that a third defendant was added to the Mar-a-Lago case in a superseding indictment.
Some of this may sound familiar to you because it mirrors reporting by CNN and the WaPo in late July, but now we have it confirmed by Smith. The short version is this: Trump Employee 4 (identified by news outlets as Yuscil Taveras) receives a target letter that conflicts out his attorney Stanley Woodward, Taveras gets a new attorney, Taveras meets with the feds, a superseding indictment soon follows adding Carlos De Oliveira as a co-defendant and new charges against Trump and Walt Nauta.
But there’s quite a bit more to this whole episode, the new filing reveals:
- In March 2023 testimony to the DC grand jury, Taveras and De Oliveira perjured themselves by denying having any conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago.
- In June 2023, Smith advised Woodward that Taveras was a target of his investigation and sought a hearing with the chief judge in DC over Woodward conflict of interest. Woodward was repping both Nauta and Taveras.
- U.S. District Judge James Boasberg provided Taveras with a public defender to confer with about the conflicts of interest Woodward had. On July 5, Taveras informed Boasberg that he was changing lawyers from Woodward to the public defender.
- Soon after, Taveras recanted his prior false testimony to the grand jury and implicated Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira. The superseding indictment soon followed.
There’s a lot more there, beyond the scope of Morning Memo. But suffice to say, that Smith is hitting back hard on three main points: (1) his use of the grand jury in DC was proper; (2) Woodward is deeply conflicted for all the above reasons but also because he was provided to Taveras and paid for by Trumpworld entities; and (3) there is zero precedent for resolving this kind of conflict by barring the testimony of a key witness, which is what Woodward proposed.
One irony here is that Smith was forced to put it all on the public record because U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon rejected his effort to file under seal in a more discreet way.
From The Sublime To The Ridiculous
A few words before we dive into the maneuverings of Mark Meadows and Jeff Clark.
Both have colorable claims for removal of the Georgia racketeering case to federal court and possibly for immunity from state prosecution because each was a federal official at the time of the charged conduct. I don’t want to minimize their legal arguments because they’re not frivolous or contrived. That’s not to say they’re airtight cases, but they do have factual and legal bases for the arguments.
Each man is trying, understandably, to secure the protections from state-level prosecutions afforded to federal officials before they have to surrender to authorities in Atlanta. Here’s the rub: Fani Willis has given the 19 defendants until Friday at noon to surrender, but the federal judge has scheduled a hearing on removal for next Monday. That’s too late for Meadows and Clark to avoid having to surrender. Hence the maneuverings of the last 24 hours, with each of them filing emergency motions with the federal court.
It’s just that in each instance, things get weird fast because of who we’re dealing with.
Let’s start with Jeff Clark.
The lol funny argument from Jeff Clark came in the form of a demand for the federal judge who is considering removing the state prosecution to his court to decide immediately on Clark’s emergency motion to stop the proceedings in state court. His argument: please don’t require me to make “rushed travel arrangements to fly into Atlanta.”
UPDATE: In his motion for an emergency stay of the Fulton County prosecution, Jeff CLARK says he wants to avoid— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 22, 2023
"the choice of making rushed travel arrangements to fly into Atlanta or instead risking being labeled a fugitive"
He wants a decision by 5pmhttps://t.co/vw9cwXJzDg pic.twitter.com/sEzoG8TYpI
As one might expect, this entitled tone elicited howls of laughter from legal types. The general reaction was: Welcome to being a criminal defendant. Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance called Clark “the Karen of criminal defendants.”
In response, the federal judge did not rule immediately but instead gave Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis until 3 p.m. today to respond to Clark’s motion. Stay tuned on this.
Fani Willis To Mark Meadows: Talk To The Hand
For his part, Mark Meadows asked Atlanta DA Fani Willis to grant him an extension to surrender until after the federal court hearing next week. Willis was having none of it:
Willis’ refusal to play along led to Meadows’ seeking emergency relief.
For his part Trump looks prepared to surrender Thursday, even though it is expected that he too will eventually seek removal of the case to federal court.
This is where the early action is in the Georgia case. I’ll have more as the federal judge issues rulings and makes decisions.
It’s Really Happening, Folks
The dribble of defendants surrendering in the Georgia racketeering case continued Tuesday and overnight, yielding this John Eastman gem:
NYT: How Mark Meadows Pursued a High-Wire Legal Strategy in Trump Inquiries
Trump Comes To Rudy’s Aid
- Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) is challenging Sen. Rick Scott (R).
Join Us Tonight!
Need some company tonight while enduring the first GOP presidential debate of the 2024 cycle? We’ll be here live-blogging it. Come hang.
Politico: D.C. Attorney General is probing Leonard Leo’s network
Ed Blum Is Back At It
Edward Blum, who engineered the lawsuit behind the Supreme Court’s June decision to end affirmative action in college admissions, sued the international law firms Perkins Coie and Morrison & Foerster over their fellowships for diverse candidates.
The lawsuits, filed by Edward Blum’s two-year-old, anti-affirmative-action organization, American Alliance for Equal Rights, accuse the law firms of unlawful racial discrimination against white candidates. They ask the courts to remove race from consideration when selecting fellows. The law firms have offices in Texas and Florida. The suits are filed in federal courts in both states.
A Rare Instance Of Voter Fraud
An Ohio attorney supportive of Donald Trump who voted twice in multiple elections went straight to jail after being found guilty of voter fraud Tuesday. James Saunders voted in Ohio and in Florida in 2014, 2016, 2020, and 2022. He was convicted for the last two elections; the first two were beyond the statute of limitations. Sentencing is next week. Saunders faces probation to three years in prison.
What A Swell Guy
CBS News: Burner phones, mistress on payroll… revelations emerge about Texas AG Ken Paxton’s relationship to developer Nate Paul
What A Swell Guy II
The snare is closing on former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but not for the scheme(s) you might expect. Nope. How about this instead: “Selling embezzled watches at a shopping mall outside Philadelphia.” Here’s how the NYT describes it (emphasis mine):
This month, Brazilian federal police carried out raids as part of an investigation into what it says was a broad conspiracy by Mr. Bolsonaro and several allies to embezzle expensive gifts he received as president from Saudi Arabia and other countries. In one case, authorities accuse Mr. Bolsonaro’s personal aide of selling a diamond Rolex watch and a Patek Philippe watch to a jewelry shop at the Willow Grove Park mall in Pennsylvania last year.
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