Special Counsel Jack Smith Is Done With Judge Aileen Cannon And Lets It Show

INSIDE: Donald Trump ... Tim Fitton ... Don Hankey
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 01: Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former U.S. President Donald Trump on August 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. ... WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 01: Special Counsel Jack Smith delivers remarks on a recently unsealed indictment including four felony counts against former U.S. President Donald Trump on August 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. Trump was indicted on four felony counts for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Rule For Me, Rule Against, But Above All Just RULE

In a new filing that bluntly confronts U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, Special Counsel Jack Smith takes a new tone of incredulousness and disdain for her mishandling of the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

The issue at hand is her failure to have yet ruled on Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss based on his inane, unprecedented, and counterfactual reading of the Presidential Records Act. Instead of rejecting the argument out of hand, Cannon not only is entertaining it but ordered the two sides to propose jury instructions based on two different deeply flawed interpretations of the PRA.

That set up an nearly impossible challenge for Smith: How do you draft jury instructions that are so wrong on the law without looking like an idiot, undermining your own case, and pissing of the judge?

The answer: You can’t.

So Smith went all in, no longer trying to placate, educate, or hand-hold Cannon.

Smith ripped her interpretations of the PRA: “both of the Court’s scenarios are fundamentally flawed and any jury instructions that reflect those scenarios would be error.” He said her “legal premise is wrong” and her requested jury instructions “would distort the trial.”

Smith all but threatened to take Cannon up on appeal, urging her to rule promptly and not wait until a jury has been seated and thereby deprive the government of the opportunity to appeal. At this point, Smith would prefer an adverse ruling to no ruling at all: “Whatever the Court decides, it must resolve these crucial threshold legal questions promptly. The failure to do so would improperly jeopardize the Government’s right to a fair trial.”

Smith came as close as you can to mocking Cannon’s request for proposed jury instructions under her two scenarios, prefacing the insane exercise with language like:

Any jury instructions premised on the erroneous legal suppositions set forth in Scenario (a) would necessarily be deeply flawed.


Like Scenario (a), proposed Scenario (b) rests on [an] erroneous and unsupported legal proposition … But Scenario (b) also incorporates additional layers of erroneous legal propositions at the core of Trump’s legally flawed and factually unsupported PRA defense.

For devotees of the Mar-a-Lago case, Smith also walked Cannon through the origin story of Trump’s PRA defense, which close followers know involves Tom Fitton, the non-lawyer head of the right-wing Judicial Watch.

How A Subprime Auto King Saved Trump’s Butt

Meet Don Hankey:

  • CNN: Billionaire whose firm backed Trump’s $175 million bond reveals how the deal came together
  • Bloomberg: Donald Trump’s Lenders of Last Resort Is A Subprime Auto King and Online Bank
  • WaPo: How a California billionaire known for auto loans provided Trump’s bond

There It Is

A 26-year-old New York man was charged late last month with sending death threats to state Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron in connection with the civil fraud case against Donald Trump.

Trump’s Latest Recusal Nonsense

The trial judge in the New York hush-money-cum-election-interference case has already rejected Trump’s previous efforts to get him to recuse himself, so he’s unlikely to grant Trump’s latest request, just days before trial, that is built around Trump’s public attacks on the judge’s daughter.

Here We Go Again

A.B. Stoddard warns of Trump using a variation of the 2020 Big Lie playbook in 2024: “Trump can win on November 5, and polls show he likely would if the election were held today. But if Biden defeats him, the man who would trample the country for his ego can be expected to use even more extreme means than he did last time to flip the result—because he’s trying to stay out of jail.”

Nearly All Of Trump’s ‘Hostages’ Assaulted Law Enforcement

Just Security breaks down the charges against the Jan. 6 defendants still being held in the DC jail: A whooping 27 of the 29 inmates were charged or already convicted of assaulting law enforcement officers during the Capitol attack.


Trump’s campaign speeches yesterday in the Midwest could easily be dismissed as more of the same, what you would expect, and not-much-new-to-see-here. They did strike familiar themes, but the level of villainy is truly reaching new levels.

Deeply racist and dehumanizing targeting of immigrants featured prominently in his Michigan speech, where he insisted on calling immigrants “animals.” Awful stuff.

But I was particularly struck by this hodgepodge of threats of authoritarian menace, due process violations, and illegal searches and seizures – all while surrounded by uniformed members of law enforcement:

Note how Trump, under criminal indictment in four jurisdictions, not only surrounds himself with police but folds in his own quest for presidential immunity, offering to provide the same immunity to law enforcement. (He’s said this before, but I don’t think it’s been in this kind of setting.) It’s a remarkable dynamic, a case study in Orwellian language and authoritarian machinations.

I know it’s hard to see Trump’ clownishness as sophisticated. But this is multi-layered sophistication, whether conscious or not. He’s wrapping himself in the mantle of police, holding himself out as a law-and-order candidate, casting judges and prosecutors as criminals and himself as their victim, and thus positioning himself as aligned with police in the pursuit of criminals while benevolently promising (unconvincingly) that he will protect them with the same immunity he will win for himself.

So much to unpack in that speech (including another apparent Trump fabrication).

A New Tactic Against Disinformation

The NYT profiles attorney Michael J. Gottlieb, who is famously using defamation claims to combat disinformation in cases ranging from Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss to Pizzagate.

‘Hate Lost’

Voters in a recall election in Enid, Oklahoma overwhelmingly removed a member of the City Council over his ties to white nationalists groups.

2024 Ephemera

  • WSJ poll: Trump leads Biden in six of seven swings states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. Biden leads only in Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin voters approved two GOP-driven constitutional amendments limiting civic participation in elections: (i) a ban on private funding in support of elections; and (ii) new limits on who can perform election-related duties.
  • A dormant bill in Nebraska to award the state’s electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis – and likely deprive Joe Biden of a single electoral vote – has new life after right-wing provocateur Charlie Kirk tweeted about it Tuesday afternoon and Donald Trump and the governor quickly lined up behind it.

Taiwan Quake Aftermath

HUALIEN, TAIWAN – APRIL 3: The Uranus Building at Xuanyuan Road in Hualien, Taiwan is tilted severely after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off Taiwan’s eastern coast on April 3, 2024. (Photo by Hualien County Fire Department/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A 7.4-magnitude temblor along the eastern coast of Taiwan killed at least nine people and left widespread damage and disruption.

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    In footage captured by journalist and filmmaker Sandi Bachom, independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can be seen telling a crowd that shadow forces are using 5G cellular technology to control human behavior.

    Speaking at an anti-vax rally at the Lincoln Memorial in 2022, Kennedy tells the crowd, “they are putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior,” to a chorus of boos, “digital currency that will allow them to punish us from a distance, and cut off our food supply,” he continued.

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