A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was in the midst of doing his usual anti-Ukraine schtick yesterday in a hearing on U.S. funding for its ally when he teed up what he clearly thought was going to be a gotcha moment. He ended up being the one who got got.
Laying what looked like a trap for one of the witnesses, Gaetz asked if a far-right group in Ukraine has access to U.S. weapons. The witness, under secretary of defense for policy Colin Kahl, was immediately wary and pressed Gaetz for any information he might have to support the question. Gaetz pounced, citing a “Global Times investigative report,” which he quickly moved to enter into the record. The committee chair, hearing no objections, ordered it entered into the record. The teeth of Gaetz’s trap thus closed … on his own leg.
Kahl, with impeccable almost casual timing, pointed out that he himself tends not to rely on Chinese propaganda. No, really. A befuddled Gaetz at first denied it was the Chinese Global Times, a well-known propaganda organ of the Chinese government, but was quickly forced to concede. The whole thing starts around the 3:05 mark here:
By the way, can we take a moment to marvel at CSPAN getting all spicy on its Twitter account?
The WaPo’s Aaron Blake has a fuller rundown of the whole exchange, the backstory on the Global Times, and the underlying allegation. He also notes this: “Gaetz has promoted his question-and-answer period from the hearing on Twitter, while cutting off the video before the above exchange.”
Wray Confirms FBI’s Assessment Of COVID’s Origins
FBI Director Christopher Wray conspicuously chose Fox News as his venue for publicly confirming for the first time the bureau’s classified assessment that COVID originated as a leak from the Chinese lab in Wuhan.
Previous reporting had already revealed that the FBI was the most aggressive component of the U.S. intel community in attributing COVID to a lab leak. It reportedly made its assessment with “medium confidence.”
Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that for the first time, based on the new intelligence, the Department of Energy also assessed (with “low confidence”) that COVID came from a lab leak.
The intel community remains sharply divided in how it assesses the origins of COVID, with some components pointing toward natural origins for COVID, and others remaining undecided.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) shows how to confront GOP misinformation on COVID and China:
Breaking This Morning
WaPo goes deep on the internal tensions between DOJ prosecutors and the FBI over the raid on Mar-a-Lago.
Garland On The Hill Today
Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to testify in an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Leonard Leo’s Lavish New Lifestyle
A network of political non-profits formed by judicial activist Leonard Leo moved at least $43 million to a new firm he is leading, raising questions about how his conservative legal movement is funded.
Leo’s own personal wealth appeared to have ballooned as his fundraising prowess accelerated since his efforts to cement the Supreme Court’s conservative majority helped to bring about its decision to overturn abortion rights. Most recently, Leo reaped a $1.6 billion windfall from a single donor in what is likely the biggest single political gift in U.S. history.
Conservative Justices Cold To Biden Student Loan Cancellation Plan
TPM’s Kate Riga spearheaded our coverage yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments:
- Student Debt Case Reveals How Far Conservatives May Go With Major Questions Doctrine
- Right-Wing Justices Conjure Up Lawn Care Strawman To Juxtapose With Supposedly Elite Student Debtors
- Gorsuch Attacks Dynamic That Has Been Enormously Useful To Anti-Administration Litigants
One final note: Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar was dazzling in her defense of the administration’s position, making the best possible arguments in what is likely to be a losing fight. Among Supreme Court advocates whom I’ve heard (a relatively small sample size, I admit), only former Solicitor General Paul Clement is in Prelogar’s league.
A federal judge in California is under an ethics investigation for ordering the handcuffing of a criminal defendant’s 13-year-old daughter during a courtroom hearing, the chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed Tuesday.
CPAC Ain’t What It Used To Be
The annual confab of the GOP’s right wing is saddled this year by the recent groping allegations against CPAC head Matt Schlapp:
WaPo: As CPAC’s head faces sexual assault claim, other leadership concerns emerge
NYT: For Republicans’ Rising Stars, CPAC Is Losing Its Pull
Banana Republican Party?
Finally someone calls out House Republicans on their snickering use of “Democrat” as an adjective:
Drumbeat To Expel George Santos From The House
Two more New York Republican members of Congress, Marc Molinaro and Anthony D’Esposito, are calling for the expulsion of serial fabulist Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House.
Daily Beast: House Oversight Chair Laments That Joe Biden’s Dead Son Was Never Prosecuted
TPM’s Josh Kovensky on the Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s bizarre use of state resources to carry the mantle of Trump’s border wall quest. Under Abbott, Texas has signed more than $841 million in contracts for a mere 37 miles of wall.
Lori Lightfoot Loses In Chicago
Lori Lightfoot becomes the first incumbent mayor of Chicago since 1989 to lose a re-election bid. The April 4 runoff will feature former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas (34% in yesterday’s vote) against Cook County Commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson (20%).
Hard Right Begs For Its Own Safe Space
“We want our own safe space, and we deserve it” — Marjorie Taylor Greene pic.twitter.com/WGpTLrjNxe— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 1, 2023
Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know