A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Final Stages Before Trump Indictment
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the central witness in the Stormy Daniel hush money scandal, is expected to testify Monday afternoon to a Manhattan grand jury investigating the scheme to keep the porn actress quiet in the closing days of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Cohen’s testimony, coupled with prosecutor’s invitation for Trump himself to testify, suggest not only that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is closing in on a charging decision but that he is likely to seek an indictment of Trump.
- AP: “Cohen has been meeting regularly with Manhattan prosecutors in recent weeks, including a daylong session Friday to prepare for his grand jury appearance.”
- WSJ: “Once Mr. Cohen testifies, the grand jury will have heard from every person who played a key role in the hush-money deal and its aftermath.”
- NYT: “It would be highly unusual for a prosecutor in a high-profile white-collar case to go through a weekslong presentation of evidence — and question nearly every relevant witness — without intending to seek an indictment.”
Jean Carroll Can Use Access Hollywood Tape
The judge ruled Friday that the Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump brags about grabbing women by the “pussy” is admissible in the upcoming trial of E. Jean Carroll’s defamation claim against him. Also admissible: the testimony of two other women who have accused Trump of sexual assault.
Judge Shoots Down Media Access To Secret MAL Proceedings
Politico: “A federal judge has rejected a bid by media organizations to gain access to records related to a dispute over compliance with a grand jury subpoena for classified documents stored at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate.”
Suddenly Everyone Is A Banking Expert
A lot has transpired very quickly since I flagged the Silicon Valley Bank mess to you in Friday’s Morning Memo. I’m no banking regulatory expert, so I’m not going to devote a lot of space here to it, but it is a truly important story. The key developments:
- Friday: California shut down Silicon Valley Bank and the FDIC immediately stepped in.
- Sunday: The Treasury Department announced that the FDIC would backstop all depositors in SVB, not just depositors insured by the FDIC.
- At the same time, Treasury announced it was taking similar steps with New York’s Signature Bank, which was heavy into crypto: It was shut down and all depositors were covered, not just insured ones.
- Monday: San Francisco’s First Republic Bank is looking wobbly this morning.
A few cautions: Don’t be quick to point fingers or buy instant analyses or easy conclusions. A complex interlocking set of factors are contributing to the current crisis, and there’s no one culprit or villain.
That said, there’s a lot of good reporting and smart analysis out there. You might consider Matt Levine’s Money Stuff as a primer. We’ve long relied on Dennis Kelleher, who’s been fighting the fight on regulating the financial system for more than a decade.
Biden To Make Remarks On Bank Failures This Morning
The President is scheduled to make remarks about the banking crisis at the White House this morning sometime after 8 a.m. ET before flying to San Diego to meet with the prime ministers of the UK and Australia.
Greg Abbott’s Big Border Wall Scheme
TPM’s Josh Kovensky has been all over Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s gambit to declare himself the true heir of Donald “Build The Wall” Trump:
Feb. 28: Abbott Tries To Resurrect Trump Border Wall Project Through Bizarre Use Of State Resources
March 7: Abbott Has Spent Nearly $1 Billion To Complete Trump’s Wall. He’s Just Getting Started.
March 11: Texas Has Massive Wall-Building Contracts. But It Doesn’t Have Anywhere To Put A Wall.
Michigan Man Arrested After YouTube Threats Against Whitmer And Biden
Randall Robert Berka II was arrested and charged with federal firearms violations after Google tipped off the feds that he was making threatening remarks on YouTube, according to news reports and court filings.
There’s a lot going on here (emphasis mine):
Investigators went to Berka’s house, in Huron County, and spoke with his mother, who said she had purchased a handgun and three long guns for her son in the past year. She said he keeps the guns, as well as ammunition and body armor, in his room at their house.
Berka was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment in 2012, court documents say, and his mental health history is what prohibits him from having a gun. His mother told investigators she didn’t think his treatments are working and that he should be arrested and imprisoned.
The YouTube rants also included threats against FBI agents and the LGBT community.
Credit to MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin, who flagged some weirdness on the docket in the Texas abortion-pill case. It turned out to be quite an unusual move from the already-controversial U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk:
WaPo: In an unusual move, judge delays public notice of abortion-pill hearing
NYT: Judge in Abortion Pill Case Set Hearing but Sought to Delay Telling the Public
Law Dork: Texas judge ignores his own rules to keep mifepristone case moves hidden from public
What The Post-Dobbs World Looks Like
A Texas man is suing three friends of his ex-wife under the state’s wrongful death statute for helping her to obtain abortion medication.
BBC Playing Catch Up To TPM
The BBC decided to profile Aleksandar Savic, the Serbian man who inspired Jan. 6 rioters then emigrated to Texas. But more than a year after the TPM profile of Savic, the BBC came up short:
Although the couple refused to answer our questions, last year Mr Savic answered questions from left-wing website Talking Points Memo in which he denied inciting violence, saying that “angry people” can be inspired by anything from “books” to “rap songs.”
The former vice president took the opportunity of being in front of a bunch of political journalists in DC over the weekend to lambaste Donald Trump for Jan. 6. Surely political reporters aren’t THAT gullible? Wrong!
Politico did one of its patented “Inside the …” stories: “Inside Pence world’s decision to go hard at Trump at the Gridiron.” It didn’t mention until the 16th paragraph in an 18-paragraph story that Pence is actively fighting a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Jan. 6.
Was Fox News Good Or Just Lucky?
Dominion Voting System’s massive defamation lawsuit against Fox News has revived the debate among campaign and election types over whether the network got it right when it called Arizona for Biden so early in 2020.
What Price Should Fox News Pay?
Grid News: Should Fox News hosts who pushed 2020 election lies be allowed to keep journalistic accolades?
A ProPublica review of local officials who refused to certify 2022 election results found that most did not face formal consequences. Experts explain what that means for the future of American elections.
The Nord Stream Sabotage Mystery
Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!