Trump’s BS Ain’t Gonna Fly In Federal Court

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Tanya Chutkan ... Sam Miele
US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB... US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

What Price Trump’s Gamesmanship?

I always found that establishing yourself as a reliable narrator to the judge was good for you as a lawyer, good for your client, and not to be too earnest but just plain good overall.

But that is so not Trump’s style. He’ll make any argument at any time for any purpose without regard to whether it will withstand scrutiny, hold up to the slightest challenge, undermine other better arguments, or make him and his lawyers look like fools.

In a new filing Monday, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team used Trump’s absurdly over-the-top bid for a 2026 trial date in the Jan. 6 case to begin to show this pattern of unreliability to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan:

  • Funny math: Trump’s team claimed that the median time for a prosecution of this kind to get to trial was 29.4 months, but DOJ pointed out that that 29.4 months is the median time not from indictment until the start of trial but from indictment to the completion of sentencing by the court. Shorter message: Trump deceived you, your honor.
  • More funny math: The cases Trump used to arrive at its median number came from the period of October 2021 until September 2022 when federal courts were unwinding the COVID backlog and only 22 cases went to trial nationwide, DOJ argued. “This small and skewed sample provides no help to the Court in deciding an appropriate trial date,” DOJ argued. Shorter message: We’re helpful, your honor, and the defendant is not.
  • Bellyaching: Trump complained loudly that it would be impossible to review the millions of pages of discovery in time for 2024 trial date, but DOJ pointed out that no one manually reviews every page of discovery any more. That’s what electronic discovery vendors do and Trump has one. Shorter message: Don’t be taken in by the defendant’s histrionics, your honor.
  • Hyperbole: Trump compared the amount of discovery to tall buildings and Russian novels, but DOJ scoffed at the hyperbole: “comparisons to the height of the Washington Monument and the length of a Tolstoy novel are neither helpful nor insightful.” Shorter message: We can provide reliable input for the real decisions your honor must make.
  • Fake conflicts: Trump bitterly complained that DOJ wanted jury selection in the Jan. 6 case to start on the same day as a scheduled hearing in the Mar-a-Lago case in Florida. DOJ acknowledged the conflict and adjusted it’s proposed schedule accordingly. Shorter message: We can reasonably resolve real conflicts and here we are doing so, reasonably.

It was a short, six-page filing. It won’t amount to much in the long run. But it’s beginning to establish a pattern for the judge of Trump being unreasonable and prosecutors being reasonable. One side is reliable and judicious; the other is voluble and self-interested.

By all accounts, these are things that Chutkan (and any good judge) will recognize early and take into account to avoid being led around by the nose, taken advantage of, and otherwise bamboozled into bad decisions. In contrast, the single most concerning thing about U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon in the Mar-a-Lago case is that she may be too inexperienced or too biased or ideologically compromised to recognize a bad-apple defendant making preposterous arguments and representations to the court.

It took many journalists years to figure out they were being played by Trump (and some of the cable nets still haven’t learned). We can’t afford for Trump’s judges to be that slow on the uptake.

Trump Must Post Bond And Shut Up

No release on his own recognizance for Trump in Georgia. He must post a $200,000 bond and submit to the following conditions of pre-trial release:

Trump To Surrender Thursday

Or so he says:

The Rush To Federal Court

Two more defendants in Fani Willis’ Georgia racketeering prosecution are seeking to have the case removed to federal court: former Trump DOJ official Jeff Clark and former Georgia GOP chair David Shafer.

Clark’s basis for removal is plausible: He was a federal official at the time of the alleged criminal conduct.

Shafer, who was a fake elector for Trump in Georgia, has a more curious and provocative claim: He’s arguing that as a “contingent” presidential elector he was an officer of the United States and therefore entitled to have the case tried in federal court.

Eastman Gets His Delay. Kinda.

Coup architect John Eastman failed to in his bid to postpone his disbarment proceedings in California on account of his indictment in Georgia, but he has won a small delay … so that he may surrender on the Georgia charges lol:

Indicted Santos Fundraiser In Plea Talks

In a new filing, federal prosecutors said they are attempting to resolve the case against Sam Miele, a former fundraiser for Rep. George Santos (R-NY), short of trial. Miele was indicted for allegedly impersonating a one-time aide to Speaker Kevin McCarthy to juice Miele’s own fundraising efforts.

Looking Ahead

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is poised to issue three significant rulings in the coming weeks that could bear on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s work, CNN reminds us.

First GOP Debate Field Set

A reminder that the presidential primary debates are a far cry from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the presidential commission general election debates, or the old-style debates hosted by a civic-minded organization like the League of Women Voters.

These are not really civic endeavors but ratings boosts for the TV networks. It’s a bad situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, and we shouldn’t fall into covering these debates as anything other than what they are.

With that caveat out of the way, the lineup for the Trump-less Fox News GOP debate Wednesday night is set: Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Doug Burgum.

Factoid Of The Day

A Closing Note

Like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo

Comments are not currently available for this post.

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: