The Summer We Faced A World On Fire

INSIDE: Donald Trump ... Mark Meadows ... Ted Cruz
TOPSHOT - An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed cars in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. At least 36 people have died after a fast-moving wildfire turned Lahaina to as... TOPSHOT - An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023 shows destroyed cars in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. At least 36 people have died after a fast-moving wildfire turned Lahaina to ashes, officials said August 9, 2023 as visitors asked to leave the island of Maui found themselves stranded at the airport. The fires began burning early August 8, scorching thousands of acres and putting homes, businesses and 35,000 lives at risk on Maui, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via 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.

Or … The Summer Of Our Discontent

This is last Morning Memo of what has been an extraordinary summer in the annals of human civilization. I don’t want the hot season to slip away without some acknowledgement of what has just transpired.

As the unprecedented series of climate-change-driven disasters has unfolded, especially over the past two months, I have struggled not to turn Morning Memo into a daily weather column.

Floods in Vermont, deadly wildfires in Hawaii, a tropical storm warning in Los Angeles, record-obliterating heat waves in the Southwest and Deep South. Not to mention the searing heat in Europe, ferocious wildfires from Greece to Canada to Louisiana, alarming sea surface temperatures across the globe, and the dawning realization that this isn’t the new normal, not even close. It’s merely a way station en route to a cataclysmic future we can barely conceive.

For people who study climate change and those who are working to avert its worst effects, this was the summer of starting to wonder whether the models had underplayed the effects and the speed of even modest global warming. We won’t know for some time, years even, whether that turns out to be true. But the lived experience of the summer of 2023 suggested that the big changes long forecast are going to be bigger and come faster than we had expected.

The physics of climate change are inexorable. That’s not a theory or a theology or a belief. It’s a fact. What remains unknown is the precise scale and scope of the direct, indirect, knock-on, and ripple effects of the planet-wide warming that is underway. We are not only unprepared for what comes next, we remain deeply unsure of what exactly does come next besides ever-rising temperatures.

But as grim as the last few weeks have been, the future is portended by the joke you’ve probably heard going around: This was coolest summer of the rest of your life.

Trump Pleads Not Guilty In Georgia RICO Case

The former president waived his arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the state RICO charges against him, so he will not need to return to Atlanta to appear in person next week.

Trump: Slow The Fuck Down!

The former president wants nothing to do with the speedy trial requests of his RICO co-defendants. Trump asked the state judge overseeing the case to sever his trial from those seeking a speedy trial, which is currently set to start Oct 23.

Jockeying Over Meadows’ Removal Gambit

The federal judge considering Mark Meadows’ motion to remove his Georgia RICO prosecution to federal court has all he needs now to issue a ruling:

  • Meadows and Willis have each filed additional briefs on the question U.S. District Judge Steve Jones asked them to answer: “Would a finding that at least one (but not all) of the over acts charged occurred under the color of Meadows’s office, be sufficient for federal removal of a criminal prosecution?” 
  • Meadows filed an additional notice to the federal court that Willis is moving fast in state court and urging a prompt decision on removal.
  • An amalgam of former prosecutors, judges and officials have filed a friend of the court brief on why removal would be inappropriate for Meadows.

Meadows’ Play For Immunity

In a recent Morning Memo, I cautioned that most of what’s playing out right now procedurally in the Georgia RICO case won’t matter much in the end. But I probably should have included one caveat: Mark Meadows’ play to remove his case to federal court is part one of a two-step gambit to try to win immunity from prosecution under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Harry Litman explains.

Quote Of The Week

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on the efforts by some state Republicans to target Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis for retribution for her prosecution of Donald Trump:

The bottom line is that in the state of Georgia as long as I’m governor, we’re going to follow the law and the Constitution, regardless of who it helps and harms politically. Over the last few years, some inside and outside of this building may have forgotten that. But I can assure you that I have not.

Just Plain Weird

Trump co-defendant Harrison Floyd claims he’s going to run for Congress from Georgia – even though he lives in Maryland (where he’s facing separate charges for allegedly assaulting an FBI agent), TPM’s Hunter Walker reports.

Proud Boys Sentencing Continues

Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his seditious conspiracy conviction, the second-longest Jan. 6 sentence to date (behind the 18 years meted out to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes).

Still, the sentence was dramatically less than the 33 years sought by prosecutors, less than the lower end of the sentencing guidelines, and, according to the Trump-appointed federal judge, probably the biggest departure from the sentencing guidelines he’ll ever entertain.

Sentencing continues today, with Proud Boys Ethan Nordean and Dominic Pezzola due up next.

Oh Really?

A Trump supporter who told police at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “go hang yourself” is now the Trump campaign’s No. 2 in New Hampshire.

DOJ Going Hard After Threats To Election Workers

The Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force secured two new convictions against defendants accused of threatening election workers, bringing to nine the number of convictions it has obtained.

Biden Being Biden

This Is The Icing On The Ken Paxton Cake

In an especially-for-the-AP rollicking account of Ken Paxton’s petty corruption as Texas attorney general, the usually staid wire service teed up this kicker to its story absolutely perfectly:

Around Christmas for years, Texas grocery giant H-E-B sent a coconut-dusted cake to the attorney general’s office, which staff shared.

That changed after Paxton was elected, according to three former employees of his executive office who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

One said Paxton once told staff not to touch the cake because it was for his birthday, which is on Dec. 23. Another said Paxton once had the cake brought to a Tex-Mex restaurant for a staff lunch but never served it. The third recalled watching Paxton and an aide walk out of the office carrying the cake box.

According to required gift logs kept by Paxton’s office, the cake was worth $45.

Definitely worth a read.

The ‘Inadvertent’ Justice

After getting an extension to grapple with all of the exposés about his billionaire-funded travel and vacations, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally filed his financial disclosure form for 2022 – and in it he used the word “inadvertently” 16 times.

Thomas was forced to disclose some of his past transactions with Harlan Crow already reported by ProPublica and others, and revealed previously unknown transaction from 2022. My personal fave was Thomas claiming that he needed to travel on Crow’s private plane because of the security concerns prompted by the leak of the draft Dobbs decision.

Justice Samuel Alito filed his financial disclosure form, too, but made no mention of the 2008 fishing trip he took with billionaire Paul Singer that was recently made public.

The Supreme Court’s Naked Corruption

Dahlia Lithwick:

For the bulk of the past year … we’ve been confronted with the towering pile of stories about justices accepting luxury trips and gifts from billionaires with a vested interest in the conservative legal movement’s deregulatory project …

As story after story appears, suggesting that the same person who is cultivating relationships between billionaire donors and Supreme Court justices is also working to suppress elections, the failure to understand and then write about the Supreme Court as an institution largely captured by moneyed partisan political interests feels more and more like journalistic malpractice.

Ohhh, He’s Ken Starr’s Nephew?

The federal judge in Texas who sanctioned Southwest Airlines lawyers by making them attend a religious liberty training session with a right-wing legal advocacy group is not backing down.

Clown Of The Week

The fake outrage, the macho pose of a peacock, the staged setting, the human props. Who is snookered by this low-rent propaganda?

Have A Great Labor Day Weekend!

I’ll be back in Washington starting next week. See you Tuesday.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for Zemod Zemod says:

    Cat pic

  2. Avatar for quickq quickq says:

    Cat pic if you can get back in…
    not loading for me unless I go to “History” and click “Home”

  3. Avatar for jinnj jinnj says:

    (1.) Super Tuesday, scheduled for March 5, is when over a dozen states, including California and Texas, will hold their primaries. By the end of March, events covering well over 50% of each party’s delegates will have taken place.


    For the GOP - it looks like Trump’s in a position to glide to the nomination & nobody wants to risk getting directly run over … most daring things they will do is audition to be his understudy

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