The Big Lie Is A Long Con, A Grift, And A Trump Family Biz Opportunity

INSIDE: Mike Johnson ... Kari Lake ... O.J.
Lara Trump (L), daughter-in-law of former US President Donald Trump, attends the Republican National Committee (RNC) Spring meeting on March 8, 2024, in Houston, Texas. The RNC elected Lara Trump co-chair of the comm... Lara Trump (L), daughter-in-law of former US President Donald Trump, attends the Republican National Committee (RNC) Spring meeting on March 8, 2024, in Houston, Texas. The RNC elected Lara Trump co-chair of the committee and Michael Whatley as chairman, tightening the former president's grip over the party ahead of the November election. (Photo by Cécile Clocheret / AFP) (Photo by CECILE CLOCHERET/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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All In The Family

When RNC co-chair and Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump blasted out a robocall last week claiming “massive fraud” in the 2020 election, it was a continuation of one of the great long cons in history. Four years and counting …

The origin of the Big Lie can be traced back to four years ago this week, when then-President Trump first started freaking out over COVID-era rule changes that would make voting easier and safer. Better access to voting has long been anathema to Republicans, and Trump’s own antipathy towards the pandemic accommodations quickly morphed into allegations that Democrats were cheating.

From there, the Big Lie metastasized into a sweeping, far-reaching conspiracy to first delegitimize and then overturn the results of the 2020 election. We often say the conspiracy culminated with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but in truth it never ended so it’s hard to say when it culminated or if it even has yet. If that sounds ominous, it should.

The Big Lie continued to evolve and now it serves a different set of purposes, first and foremost to keep Trump out of jail. There’s a straight line from the Big Lie through Trump’s decision to declare his candidacy early so that he could label any prosecution of him as “election interference” to the millions of dollars being raised from hapless marks to pay Trump’s legal bills.

In that way, the Big Lie is a criminal conspiracy, a long con, a grift, and essentially a Trump family business opportunity. Installing his conspiracy-minded daughter-in-law at the RNC opens another spigot of cash for his legal defense, and her robocall tapped it. As an arch Philip Bump notes: “A Trump raising money off election lies? Now we’ve seen everything.”

Cowed Republican elected officials continue to pay homage to the Big Lie. It cannot be disavowed without putting their political careers on the line. With the Big Lie now serving as a litmus test for RNC hires, Joyce Vance writes: “The corruption of the Republican Party is virtually complete … This is about the un-democratization of the Republican Party and its conversion into a political tool whose job is to fuel the cult of personality.”

So rather than seeing the Big Lie merely as a historical artifact, a ripe target of derision and ridicule, or a sign of cultishness, it’s best seen as an ongoing threat to democracy and the rule of law with its denouement yet to be written.

Speaker Makes Pilgrimage To Mar-A-Lago

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is prostrating himself before Donald Trump in an expected joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago where they will reportedly tout a bogus initiative to prevent non-citizens from voting. Narrator: It is already illegal for non-citizens to vote.

Trump Criminal Trial Starts Monday!

Barring any last many surprises, the first criminal trial of a former president will begin Monday with jury selection in Manhattan. Security measures are in place. Trump’s pre-trial wrangling to delay the case has either been dismissed or is expected to be. A reminder that TPM’s Josh Kovensky will be covering the trial for us in person, so long as access is available.

Good Read

Politico: How Donald Trump Gets Special Treatment in the Legal System

Here We Go Again, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley will not run for re-election in 2025, setting up another barnburner of a judicial race next April. Bradley is a member of the court’s new-as-of-2023 liberal majority, meaning her departure puts control of the court in play.

2024 Ephemera

  • AZ-Sen: Likely GOP nominee Kari Lake is practically begging Arizona lawmakers to repeal the state’s Civil War-era abortion ban that she herself has long supported.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Arizona Friday for an already-scheduled event that she has converted into a showcase for the GOP’s new self-own on abortion politics. In prepared remarks, Harris says: “We all must understand who is to blame. It is the former president, Donald Trump.”
  • NC-Gov: Bankruptcy documents detail how GOP nominee Mark Robinson failed to file federal income taxes for 5 years.

FISA Reauthorization Salvaged With Trump Compromise

What looked 24 hours ago like a complete roadblock to renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was resolved when Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) shortened the renewal period from five to two years, giving Trump a chance to reshape the law if he’s re-elected and muzzling his “Kill FISA” opposition for now.

Iran Retaliation Against Israel Is Imminent

The top U.S. general in the region arrived in Israel Thursday ahead of what is widely expected to be a direct attack from Iran on southern or northern Israel as soon as Friday or Saturday, in retaliation for an April 1 strike in Syria that killed several senior Iranian commanders.

Orenthal James Simpson, 1947-2024

When word came yesterday of O.J. Simpson’s death, I realized most of our staff is too young to remember his trial for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, let alone recall his football-playing heyday in the 1970s or his highly successful transition into actor, commercial pitchman, and sports announcer in the 1980s.

Without that lead-in to the ghastly murders and subsequent trial of the last century, it’s quite difficult hard to capture the mix of fame, celebrity, cable TV obsessiveness, and sheer madness that created the spectacle of 1994-95.

Other contributing factors have become harder to explain over time: why it wasn’t widely covered as essentially a domestic violence case, how it came at the peak of the “tough on crime” era and fed into the already deep antagonism Black Americans felt toward the criminal justice system, and how the hell it gave us the Kardashians.

TPM’s Josh Marshall pulls it all together.


This was a pleasant surprise yesterday. Entering the zeitgeist via Jeopardy!:

Thanks Again!

As we close out the week, one last expression of appreciation for the Morning Memo readers who became TPM members during the annual membership drive.

On Monday, we passed our goal of 1,000 new members way ahead of schedule. We’ve kept on trucking, with almost 200 more new members since then. A hugely successful drive that strengthened TPM’s financial position and expanded the core of the community that we’re building.

Even after 17 odd years of doing this, it remains a delight that people read us at all. We’re not screaming into the void? Awesome! You’re willingness to support us financially on top of that feels like a gift. So thanks again for that and for all the other ways you show your support for TPM.

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