In The Winter Of Our Trump Discontent, Things Look Bleak

INSIDE: Ken Chesebro ... Jim Troupis ... Alvin Bragg
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 4: Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks in the library at Mar-a-Lago on March 4, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously th... PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 4: Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks in the library at Mar-a-Lago on March 4, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Trump can appear on this year's presidential ballot in all states. The Court reversed a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that had disqualified him from appearing on that state's ballot for engaging in insurrection. (Photo by Alon Skuy/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Have We Hit Rock Bottom Yet?

The Supreme Court is enabling and abetting Donald Trump. The prospect of Trump facing legal accountability for his criminal culpability is shrinking by the day. A slew of national polls show Trump consistently leading Biden ahead of the November election. Trump world is “literally popping champagne.”

We may look back on this late winter-that-wasn’t stretch as the low ebb in the fight for democracy … if we’re lucky.

The grimness of the moment was brought home by the normally upbeat Dahlia Lithwick and Rick Hasen in a piece titled “It’s Past Time to Quit Hoping the Courts Are Going to Stop Trump:

We need to stop deluding ourselves that a majority of the Supreme Court sees the same political emergency that many of us do in terms of the threat Trump poses to American democracy. Whether it understood or even accounted for the consequences of the decision to delay the criminal case against him and to expedite its decision to keep him on the ballot, the high court ensured this past week that Trump is extremely unlikely to have a jury decide if he engaged in election subversion before voters cast their ballots for the next U.S. president this fall. 

Stopping Trump is a necessary but insufficient condition to saving democracy. We need the civic fabric to be tightly knit, with all of the elements of a healthy democracy woven together to endure and persist. Independent courts defending and sustaining the rule of law are only one part of that pattern, but an extremely important part.

It’s not going well.

See Ya, Disqualification Clause

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that keeps Trump on the ballot in Colorado was expected. All that remained to be seen was how they did it. And they did it in a way that renders the Disqualification Clause a dead letter. Unlike some observers, I didn’t think this was an easy call, with an obvious outcome that the conservative supermajority simply ignored. The ruling makes good points. This is a complicated issue.

But the concurrence by the three liberal justices rightly notes that the majority decision creates an absurd result: Under the Disqualification Clause, it takes a two-thirds vote of Congress to remove the disability, but under the ruling a majority of Congress can wipe away the constitutional provision entirely. It’s actually worse than that. Any one chamber can nullify the Disqualification Clause. In the Senate, it can be nullified by the filibuster. In fact, it can be nullified by mere inaction. No enabling legislation? No Disqualification Clause.

It is, in the words of the concurrence, a “special rule” carved out “to insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy.”

The Coverage

  • WaPo: Supreme Court ruling darkens critics’ hopes for a judicial curb on Trump
  • Politico: The glaring omissions and telling fractures in the Trump ballot ruling
  • Lawfare: Section 3 Disqualification Answers—And Many More Questions

The Reaction

  • Joyce Vance: “The phrase ‘oathbreaking insurrectionist’ appears four times in the concurrence. It seems to be a synonym for Donald Trump.”
  • Heather Cox Richardson: “There is, perhaps, a larger story behind the majority’s musings on future congressional actions. Its decision to go beyond what was required to decide a specific question and suggest the boundaries of future legislation pushed it from judicial review into the realm of lawmaking.”
  • Former Judge Michael Luttig: “[T]he five-Justice majority effectively decided not only that the former president will never be subject to disqualification, but that no person who ever engages in an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States in the future will be disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause — as the concurrence of Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson witheringly explain.”

American Autocracy Threat Tracker

Sign of the times much? The folks at Just Security have a new tool for tracking the promises, plans, and proposals of a Trump II presidency.

Chesebro Is A Piece Of Work

Trump 2020 lawyers Ken Chesebro and Jim Troupis reached a settlement in the civil lawsuit over their fake electors scheme in Wisconsin. As part of the settlement, they were required to release their communications from the time of the scheme – many of which TPM had previously revealed last month in our series on the The Chesebro Docs. The new release contained some new gems from when Chesebro was in the vicinity of the Capitol on Jan. 6 to bear witness to his handiwork.

Trump Opposes Gag Order In Hush Money Case

Ahead of the March 25 trial in the hush money case in New York, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is seeking a gag order on Trump, which Trump is now opposing.

The Perjury Weisselberg Copped To

A look at the perjury case against former Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty yesterday but is still refusing to cooperate against his former boss.

What The Supreme Court Hath Wrought

In the years since the Supreme Court gutted the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act in the landmark 2013 Shelby case, the gap in turnout between white and nonwhite voters has grown the fastest in those areas previously covered by Section 5, according to a new report from the Brennan Center.

It Never Stops

TPM’s Kate Riga on the right-wing stealth attack on Obamacare that played out in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday.

Where IVF Is Under Threat

At least 13 states have pending personhood legislation that would deem embryos as people under the law.

Super Tuesday Alert

A good reminder on what the next wave of GOP members of Congress might look like: crazy on top of crazy.

WANTED: Majid Dastjani Farahani

Semafor: “The U.S. government is intensifying a manhunt for an Iranian intelligence operative who the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes has been plotting to assassinate current and former American officials, including one-time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”

How Was YOUR Monday?

Fact check: Pretty much true.

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