A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Say It Ain’t So, Rudes!
Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe has subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani as part of its investigation into Trump’s fundraising after the 2020 election, according to CNN.
The exact timing of the subpoena is a bit unclear. CNN reports that it was more than a month ago, and suggests similar subpoenas to other witnesses were issued in December, but its language is a bit unclear on the exact timing of Giuliani’s subpoena:
The subpoenas to other witnesses in addition to Giuliani were sent in late December, according to the other sources. …
The Giuliani subpoena and other December subpoenas represent a new round of inquiry, now from Smith’s office, which took shape over the holidays.
Bloomberg, also reporting on a subpoena to Giuliani but without tying it specifically to the fundraising investigation, says it was issued in early November, before Smith was appointed special counsel.
The NYT likewise dates the subpoena issuance to November, but it offers an additional caveat: “It remained unclear, however, if Mr. Smith and his team have assumed control of the part of the inquiry related to Mr. Giuliani.”
So some conflicting reporting that we’ll be trying to clear up in the coming days.
CNN provides new details on the emerging contours of the fundraising aspect of the investigation:
Prosecutors have also subpoenaed other witnesses who are close to Trump, asking specifically for documents related to disbursements from the Save America PAC, Trump’s primary fundraising operation set up shortly after the 2020 election, according to other sources with insight into the probe.
The subpoena for documents and testimony from Giuliani came from a Washington DC grand jury, Bloomberg reports. CNN says the prosecutor on Smith’s team associated with the subpoena is David Rody:
The inquiry to Giuliani came from David Rody, a former top prosecutor in New York who specializes in gang and conspiracy cases and is assisting Smith with examining a broader criminal conspiracy after the election, according to some of the sources.
The upshot of all this, as CNN puts it:
Taken together, the subpoenas demonstrate prosecutors’ growing interest in following the money after the 2020 election as part of their sweeping criminal probe around Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss of the presidency.
All Eyes On Georgia
The special purpose grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, that had been investigating Trumpworld interference in the 2020 election has filed a final report and been disbanded, but things only start to get interesting now:
- By law in Georgia, a special purpose grand jury cannot issue indictments, so it’s no surprise that there were no charges before wrapping up its work.
- The big question is whether District Attorney Fani Willis will now seek an indictment from a regular grand jury.
- A related question is whether the special grand jury’s final report will be publicly released, as it voted to do. A state judge has set a hearing for Jan. 24 to hear arguments on whether the final report should be released.
Keep an eye on whether Willis decides to go public with indictments before the special grand jury report is released. But some caution is warranted. The NYT suggests a different timeline (that speaks to why a special grand jury was empaneled in the first place):
Regular grand jury terms last two months. Defendants who are indicted can request speedy trials that begin by the close of the term that follows the two-month period in which they are indicted. Because of those protocols, most charges would most likely be brought at the beginning of the next grand jury term in early March, or further down the road.
A Weird Hiccup In Jean Carroll’s Defamation Case Against Trump
For a time Monday it looked like the full unredacted deposition of Donald Trump in the defamation case against him by Jean Carroll would be released publicly. But Trump’s lawyers objected, saying the judge had mis-entered an earlier order in the matter that mislead them. They asked to delay the unsealing of the deposition transcript and be given three additional days to object. Later in the day, the judge reversed course and granted the delay.
Can Alex Jones’ Suspended Lawyer Still Rep Jan. 6 Defendants?
Norm Pattis, suspended from practicing law by a state judge in Connecticut for allegedly unethical conduct while defending Alex Jones, spent Monday trying to convince a federal judge in DC to allow him to continue to represent a Proud Boys defendant.
I’m going to put this here right now and probably return to it in a future Morning Memo.
As you probably saw, CBS News first reported Monday that back in November private lawyers for President Biden found classified documents from his vice presidency at the think tank he previously set up in DC. CBS’s report was quickly confirmed and reproduced by other major new outlets.
The specific facts matter a great deal, so here’s what’s reported so far:
- The Biden lawyers immediately notified the National Archives and turned over the classified materials, which amounted to about 10 documents.
- The National Archives notified the Justice Department.
- Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed the U.S. attorney in Chicago – a holdover Trump appointee – to conduct a preliminary investigation into the matter to help determine whether a special counsel should be appointed.
You might not know it from the initial round of punditry, but it is not a sophisticated political analysis to anticipate the myriad ways in which Republicans and Trumpworld will use this news in bad faith ways to defend the Mar-a-Lago case.
Of course that’s exactly what Republicans did. Here’s Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, eager to be interviewed:
How ironic. Now we learn that Joe Biden had documents that are considered classified. I wonder, is the National Archives going to trigger a raid of the White House tonight? Or of the Biden Center? …
So now we’re going to take that information that we requested on the Mar-a-Lago raid, and we’re going to expand it to include the documents that Joe Biden has.
For now, let me kick it over to EmptyWheel.
More Trouble For George Santos
A campaign finance watchdog has filed a complaint with the (mostly toothless) FEC alleging that Rep. George Santos (R-NY) hid the source of donations to his campaign and violated other provisions of campaign finance law.
The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center zeroed in on the $700,000 loan Santos claimed to have made to his own campaign, alleging that he relied on unknown individuals or corporations to donate those funds.
Santos Cheers House GOP’s Gutting Of Ethics Office
The Looming Threat That Is Ron DeSantis
Jonathan Chait: “Ron DeSantis Is Imposing Political Control on Schools”
Peters To Lead DSCC Again
After trying to beg off and facing an even bleaker cycle in 2024 than in 2022, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) has succumbed to pressure from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and agreed to run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for a second consecutive cycle.
US Carbon Emissions Resume Rising
Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States rose by 1.3 percent in 2022: “The new estimate puts nationwide emissions back in line with their long-term trajectory after nearly two years of Covid-related disruptions.”
Do What We Say Not What We Do
Anne Applebaum: “What the Rioters in Brazil Learned From Americans”
Will Bolsonaro Get To Remain In Florida?
The State Department has weighed in generally on former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s visa status. Without mentioning Bolsonaro by name, State Department spokesperson Nick Price told reporters Monday:
If an A visa holder is no longer engaged in official business on behalf of that government, it is incumbent on that visa holder to depart the U.S., or to request a change to another immigration status within 30 days. If an individual has no basis on which to be in the United States, an individual is subject to removal by the Department of Homeland Security.”
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is saying he plans to return to Brazil sooner than expected:
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