Sean Hannity Admits He Didn’t Believe The Dominion Voting Conspiracies He Aired

INSIDE: George Santos ... Zelensky ... SBF
Fox News host Sean Hannity is seen in the White House briefing room in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Big Trouble Looming For Fox News

Dominion Voting Systems seems to be gaining some traction in its billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its broadcast of bogus conspiracy theories blaming the company for 2020 election fraud.

The company presented evidence in court Wednesday to establish that Fox News figures knew the claims about Dominion were false but aired them anyway.

“I did not believe it for one second,” Sean Hannity reportedly said in his Dominion deposition.

The NYT:

Mr. Hannity’s disclosure — along with others that emerged from court on Wednesday about what Fox News executives and hosts really believed as their network became one of the loudest megaphones for lies about the 2020 election — is among the strongest evidence yet to emerge publicly that some Fox employees knew that what they were broadcasting was false.

Fox News has denied Dominion’s claims.

The Hits Keep Coming For George Santos

We have learned more about serial fabulist George Santos, the incoming GOP congressman from a Queens district, and none of it is good:

  • The Forward: Congressman-elect George Santos lied about grandparents fleeing anti-Jewish persecution during WWII.
  • The Republican Jewish Coalition reacted: “These allegations, if true, are deeply troubling,” coalition director Matt Brooks said. “Given their seriousness, the congressman-elect owes the public an explanation, and we look forward to hearing it.”
  • Daily Beast: ‘Openly Gay’ Rep.-Elect George Santos Didn’t Disclose Divorce With Woman

Yes, Obama And Biden Were Audited By The IRS

Many of you have asked. The NYT answers: I.R.S. Routinely Audited Obama and Biden, Raising Questions Over Delays for Trump

The Key Numbers On Trump’s Taxes

The NYT breaks it down:

Jan. 6 Committee Starts To Show Its Receipts

The Jan. 6 committee released 34 interview transcripts from its investigation late Wednesday. Notable figures whose interviews were released included John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and Charlie Kirk.

The full list and our initial rundown are here.

The main highlight is that so many of the witnesses pleaded the 5th and refused to answer any questions.

A few other eyepoppers:

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) confronted former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio about calling her a “cunt.”
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) was apparently texting the Stop the Steal group chat while the Jan. 6 attack was still underway: “We’re still on lockdown in the congressional office.”

So Many Layers To Zelensky’s White House Visit

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 21: U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House on December 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky finally got his White House meeting, Philip Bump notes, as he runs us back through Zelensky’s travails that led to First Trump Impeachment.

Zelensky’s Speech To Congress

Watch the full speech:

How Republicans Received Zelensky

A series of embarrassments and indignities:

  • Donald Trump, Jr., set the tone for the day, tweeting: “Zelensky is basically an ungrateful international welfare queen.”
  • House Republicans were reportedly scarce for Zelensky’s address to a joint session of Congress: 86 out of 213 GOP House members showed up.
  • Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) blew off Capitol police and refused to go through security screening for Zelensky’s speech.

Russia Not Behind Pipeline Sabotage?

Didn’t see this coming: U.S. and European officials are privately doubtful that Russia is to blame for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines.

Inside The Mar-a-Lago Investigation

WaPo goes deep inside the apparent tensions between Justice Department prosecutors and FBI agents in the Mar-a-Lago investigation. What emerges is a disturbing picture of FBI agents tentative about being caught in the wringer of another Trump investigation. No one wants to be the next Peter Strzok, which is understandable on a personal level but difficult to square with their professional obligations. It leads to this extraordinary role reversal:

The lawyers, these people said, felt they had amassed more than enough probable cause to ask a judge to approve a search of Mar-a-Lago. Some agents at the field office weren’t certain. Eventually, the Justice Department lawyers prevailed.

Strzok himself noted how unusual this was: “It’s an exceedingly rare day when prosecutors want a search warrant and agents don’t.”

Wowzers

NPR and Floodlight are doing some great work together. Their latest: “She was an ABC News producer. She also was a corporate operative”

New Developments In SBF Case

A swirl of late-night developments in the massive fraud case against FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried:

  • SBF reportedly landed at Westchester County Airport shortly before 10:30 p.m. ET Wednesday after being extradited by the Bahamas.
  • Two top SBF lieutenants, including his sometime girlfriend, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors, the Wall Street Journal reports
    • Caroline Ellison, the 28-year-old former chief executive of Alameda Research, the trading firm intertwined with FTX, pleaded guilty to seven counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. She signed her plea agreement Monday.
    • Gary Wang, the 29-year-old former chief technology officer for FTX pleaded guilty to four counts, including wire fraud.
  • The new guilty pleas were announced by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a video posted late last night:

Today’s Long Read

Krista Brown and former TPMer Maureen Tkacik go deep on the dark history of Ticketmaster over at The Prospect.

Trump Loses In Court … Again

The former president tried an end run around New York Attorney General Letitia James’ massive civil fraud case against the Trump Org by suing her in Florida. It failed. A federal judge Wednesday rejected Trump’s request for an emergency injunction and warned in a footnote to his ruling: “This litigation has all the telltale signs of being both vexatious and frivolous.” The same judge recently sanctioned Trump lawyers in a different case for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss — the reluctantly famous poll workers in Fulton County, Georgia, who are suing Rudy Giuliani for defamation — have accused a lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign of dodging their subpoena for documents. A federal judge agreed to allow them to effect service by other means.

Hunter Biden Hires Abbe Lowell

Facing legal peril and as a prime target of the incoming House GOP majority, Hunter Biden has engaged longtime DC power lawyer Abbe Lowell.

Buffalo Goes After Gunmakers

The city of Buffalo filed a “first of its kind” lawsuit seeking to hold gunmakers liable for gun violence as a “public nuisance.”

RIP Franco Harris

LATROBE, PA – JULY 1982: Running back Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on from the field during summer training camp at St. Vincent College in July 1982 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

The same week his jersey was to be retired, marking the 50th anniversary of his Immaculate Reception, Pittsburgh Steelers great Franco Harris has died at 72. With a Black father and an Italian mother, Harris was adored by Italian Americans in Pittsburgh. But this was the best remembrance of his legacy:

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