Appeals Court Spanks Mark Meadows In A Way That Could Hurt Trump, Too

INSIDE: Rudy G ... Jack Smith ... Clarence Thomas
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to members of the press outside the West Wing of the White House on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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What’s Good For The Goose …

In rapid order, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Friday on whether Mark Meadows can remove the Georgia RICO case to federal court and then cranked out a ruling on Monday that handed Meadows a significant defeat.

The ruling against Meadows on removal all but eliminated the chances of any other defendant in the Georgia case to succeed in removing their prosecutions to federal court.

And on top of all that, it may have signaled trouble for Trump’s claims of immunity. More on that in a moment.

Adding to the weight of the 11th Circuit opinion, it was authored by Chief Judge William Pryor, a former GOP elected official and reliable conservative. The court ruled against Meadows’ removal gambit on two alternate grounds: The removal statute doesn’t apply to former federal officials and, more importantly, that even if it did, Meadows’ alleged participation in the RICO conspiracy was not part of his duties as Trump White House chief of staff.

The Supreme Court may yet hear this case, so it may not be the last word. But the 11th Circuit ruling was definitive and even if the Supreme Court takes issue with the ruling on the status of former federal officials, it still has the too-tenuous connection between Meadows’ official duties and the criminal conduct to fall back on.

But in finding that Meadows was engaging in conduct that fell outside his official duties, the appeals court by implication suggested Donald Trump was, too, and that has implications for the immunity claims Trump is pressing, as law professor Ryan Goodman notes.

In another sign of the federal courts rallying to defend the rule of law from Trump’s attacks, the Pryor opinion favorably cites U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta’s ruling on immunity for Trump in the civil context, specifically this line: [T]he Office of the President has no preference for who occupies it.”

Appeals Court Sets Oral Argument On Trump Immunity

Here’s the latest schedule of the appeals courts (BOLD is Supreme Court) considering Trump’s claim of absolute presidential immunity against criminal prosecution:

Dec. 20, 2023: Trump response due on whether SCOTUS should take the case
Dec. 23, 2023: Trump brief due
Dec. 30, 2023: Smith brief due
Jan. 2, 2024: Trump reply brief due
Jan. 9, 2024: Oral arguments

Rudy G Gonna Get Walloped Again

Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moore have sued Rudy Giuliani again, on the first business day since the $148 million damages award against him and in their favor. This time, they want the court to bar Giuliani permanently from repeating the same falsehoods for which they won the defamation judgment against him.

Trump Miscellany

  • Trump filed a new motion to dismiss the Georgia RICO case against him because the charges intrude on his core First Amendment right to engage in political speech.
  • Trump asked the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the three-judge panel ruling that mostly upheld the gag order imposed on him in the Jan. 6 case.
  • The group seeking to use the Disqualification Clause to keep Trump off the ballot in Michigan has appealed to the state Supreme Court.

A Little Gamesmanship

PUNCH: Like a schoolboy bringing an apple to the teacher, Special Counsel Jack Smith is meeting the deadlines set by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan even though everyone agrees that the case is on hold while Trump’s immunity claim works its way through appeals.

COUNTERPUNCH: Put off by Smith’s showboating, Trump’s legal team refused to accept Smith’s latest filing in the case.

More Reading On the Current Moment

Trump told the crowd: “We’re going to win four more years in the White House, then after that we’ll negotiate. Based on the way I was treated; we’re probably entitled to another four after that.” That’s not a joking matter. That’s the leading GOP candidate saying he intends to stay in office for longer than the Constitution allows.

For a Supreme Court that holds itself out as hewing closely to text, history and tradition, immunity should present an easy case, and Mr. Trump should lose. … If the court nevertheless distorts precedent and principle to endorse some version of Mr. Trump’s logic — or if it facilitates a delay that has functionally the same result — it will have revealed the hollowness at the core of its professed method and expose itself as willing to act in the most craven ways to advance the electoral prospects of the leading Republican contender.

[T]he New York Times illustrates precisely how unprepared our liberal institutions are for dealing with the expressly illiberal threat of Trump 2024 … The Times has no idea how to handle this threat except to present two sides: One which warns about the danger and one which prevaricates and misdirects in an attempt to hide it.

Great Read

TPM’s Josh Kovensky and Kate Riga: Inside The Russian Propaganda Mill Beaming Out Of A Florida Strip Mall

Judge Halts Removal Of Confederate Memorial

Groups who oppose the removal of a Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery obtained a temporary restraining order blocking the Army from continuing the work. But the federal judge who issued the order warned that he did so based on representations by the plaintiffs that the work was disturbing nearby graves and that he “takes very seriously the representations of officers of the Court and should the representations in this case be untrue or exaggerated the Court may take appropriate sanctions.”

Who Will Rid Me Of This Meddlesome Debt?

Saddled with debt, Justice Clarence Thomas was complaining loudly about his meager government paycheck and suggesting he might resign from the Supreme Court right around the time wealthy benefactors began to shower him with gifts, according to new reporting from ProPublica.

Justices Honor Sandra Day O’Connor

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 18: With family members in the foreground, in the back from left, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, stand in front flag-draped casket of retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor during a private service in the Great Hall at the Supreme Court on December 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. O’Connor, the first woman appointed to be a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, died at 93 on December 1. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis Allows Blessings Of Same-Sex Couples

The Pope stopped short of conferring the sacramental rite of marriage on same-sex couples, but the Vatican made clear that priests could bless same-sex couples without running afoul of church doctrine on marriage.


Perhaps you remember the Icelandic town of Grindavík being evacuated last month in anticipation of an imminent volcanic eruption in an area that until quite recently had been relatively calm, at least for Iceland.

As magma pushed toward the surface, Grindavík was rocked by a flurry of earthquakes that did extensive damage to infrastructure. But in recent weeks, the seismic activity abated somewhat, which given the pattern of Icelandic magmatic intrusions meant either that there would be no eruption or that this was the calm before the storm.

Yesterday, the calm broke as a new fissure unzipped with very little warning and lava spewed forth in the precise area scientists had thought most likely to be the focal point of an eruption, nearby but not in the town. Here’s a time lapse of the first 20 minutes of the new eruption:

Some of the lava fountains reached 300-feet high in the initial moments of the eruption, although later reports suggest a less vigorous flow as the fissure elongated:

One Of Those Kinds Of Days

In case you need a little inspiration, too:

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  1. Yes, yes it is
    The New York Times Is Part of the Effing Problem (
    Schmitz, who is one of the Catholic integralist MAGA fans, fills his essay with euphemisms about Trump’s actions. Here are some of them:

    • Trump is “pragmatic if unpredictable”

    • He occasionally uses “incendiary language”

    • And “intemperate rhetoric”

    • And “provocative comments”

    • And makes “outrageous statements”

    • Because he possesses “braggadocio”

    • And has a “combative personality”

    • And an “irreverent demeanor”

    • And is “politically incorrect”

    There are more. The piece is filled with both euphemism and the passive voice, all in an attempt to obscure reality from readers and present a sympathetic case for Trump.

    Look at this passage:

    To be sure, Mr. Trump’s wild rhetoric, indifference to protocol, and willingness to challenge expertise have been profoundly unsettling to people of both political parties. His term in office was frequently chaotic, and the chaos seemed to culminate in the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021.

    This might be the most misleading passage ever published in the paper of record.
    It was not Trump’s “indifference to protocol” which was “unsettling” to people. And the “chaos” of Trump’s term did not “seem” to culminate in a “riot” at the U.S. Capitol.

    Here is an accurate description of what happened in the waning days of the Trump administration:

    Donald Trump falsely proclaimed that the presidential election was illegitimate. He attempted, through both legal and extralegal means, to overturn the result of the election. Trump’s maneuverings in both the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense were so dangerous that ten former secretaries of defense penned an op-ed warning that it was not lawful to use the military in an election dispute. Trump then called thousands of people to Washington, assembled them into a crowd which he knew was armed, and personally directed them to march to the Capitol and “take back” the country “with strength.”

    If you came down from Mars and simply read today’s NYT op-ed, you would have absolutely no idea that any of this happened. Instead, you’d think that Trump was some kind of a ne’er-do-well or scamp.

  2. Avatar for tao tao says:

    One year ago, today, Matthew Freeman quit riding his spiffy new bicycle and giving everyone a little joy in their lives. May his memory continue to guide our futures.

  3. Netanyahu Is Trying to Hold Both Israel and Biden Hostage - Israel News -

    נתניהו מס"עת קריה 16.12.2023|15.48x9

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the war cabinet press conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday.Credit: Noam Rivkin Fenton/Pool

    Anshel Pfeffer

    Anshel Pfeffer

    Get email notification for articles from Anshel PfefferFollow

    Dec 18, 2023 9:22 pm IST

    The war cabinet’s press conference on Saturday was supposed to be about the war in Gaza. There was certainly more than enough war-related issues to discuss, starting with the tragic killing of hostages Yotam Haim, Samer Fuad El-Talalka and Alon Shamriz by Israel Defense Forces soldiers the previous morning in Gaza.

    Instead, what Israelis got was a preview of what they can expect in the election campaign that increasingly seems imminent.

    The politicking was, of course, started by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He began with his standard “We’re in a war for our existence, in which we must continue until victory,” followed by some empty words on how the tragedy of the three hostages had broken his heart – without referencing the awful circumstances of their deaths. He had a message for bereaved families who have lost soldiers in the war, saying that “coming from a bereaved family … I know that the pain which rends your heart will never relent.”

    He then launched into what can only be seen as a thinly veiled election campaign speech.

    There was no other reason for Netanyahu to openly and directly challenge Israel’s only strategic ally, to state that Israel would continue fighting on the ground in Gaza, “continue to the end – until we eliminate Hamas,” and that he won’t “allow us to replace Hamastan with Fatahstan, that we replace Khan Yunis with Jenin.” In other words, he was defiantly thumbing his nose at U.S. President Joe Biden’s stated preference for the Palestinian Authority to reassert control in the Gaza Strip.

    The personal fate of one man now holds precedence over those of entire nations.

  4. Shaye and Ruby would be doing Rudy a solid if they could get him to finally STFU.

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