A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Trump Preens At CPAC
What more warning do we need? He’s the only president twice impeached, to attempt a coup, and to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Despite the blizzard of lies, half-truths, and deceptions, he usually conveys exactly what he means to do. Like an aging rock star hitting the road for one last hurrah, Trump’s 2024 campaign is the “Retribution” tour.
“For those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution” — Trump pic.twitter.com/V8VuLk6uy4— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2023
Yes, the crowd was relatively small, his electric connection with the audience not quite as crackling, and his aura a bit diminished. But the threat he poses to the democratic experiment no less ominous, especially in the absence of any Republican who can clearly take the GOP nomination from him.
So here we are, 20 months from the next election, with Trump promising a MAGA restoration that will unleash a cycle of revenge, payback, retribution, and punishment toward his enemies, real and perceived.
The best writeups:
The Guardian: ‘I am your retribution’: Trump rules supreme at CPAC as he relaunches bid for White House
HuffPost: The coup-attempting former president brought his usual grievances back to a diminished CPAC
We Know It’s Going To Be Bad
Michael Beschloss: “’I am your retribution’ was said today on anniversary of Lincoln’s second inaugural in which he said he had ‘malice toward none.’”
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R): “If you want to heal our land and unite our country together, you don’t do it by appealing to the angry mob. And that’s true whether you’re talking about an angry mob from the left or the right.”
David Roberts: “‘I am your retribution’ is the core promise of every aspiring fascist strongman.”
Charlie Kirk (emphasis his): “Epic speech from President Trump. A bold vision for the future, vintage America First, law and order, election integrity, and ending the endless wars. ‘I am your retribution.’ MAGA 2024″
The pattern is familiar by now: say the most outrageous thing possible then collapse in a heap of victimization when called out for it.
At CPAC this weekend it was Michael Knowles of the Daily Wire playing the game, calling for transgenderism to be “eradicated” then threatening lawsuits against anyone claiming he was calling for the eradication of transgender people.
All Eyes On Jack Smith
WaPo: As 2024 race begins, special counsel advances with focus on Trump lawyers
Fox News Reels From Defamation Lawsuit
NYT: Inside the Panic at Fox News After the 2020 Election
Josh Marshall: The Deep Archeology of Fox News
Brian Stelter: In the weeks after the 2020 election, Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News talk show became an open mic for Trump’s self-serving conspiracy theories
George and Kellyanne Conway Are Divorcing
You never know what’s going on in someone else’s marriage.
Manafort Settles With Gov’t For $3.5M
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort settled his civil case with the federal government over his undeclared foreign bank accounts for $3.5 million.
How Conservative Jurisprudence Works
A timely new study traces the rapid and curious rise of the major questions doctrine, spurred by conservative scholars and commentators and driven by hostility to administrative agencies.
“The phrase was used just once by any federal judge before 2017, and in only five federal decisions — at any level of court — before 2020,” Allison Orr Larsen, a law professor at William & Mary, wrote in the new study, “Becoming a Doctrine.” …
“In 2016 — long before it was anointed a ‘doctrine’ by the Supreme Court — the ‘major questions doctrine’ was featured by name in the annual Federalist Society conference,” she wrote, referring to the conservative legal group.
The turning point came in 2017, when Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, then a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, used the term in a dissent. “That moment,” Professor Larsen wrote, “seems to have changed the game.”
Biden In Selma
The President commemorated Bloody Sunday with a speech on voting rights:
“Selma is a reckoning. The right to vote … to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty. With it anything’s possible,” Biden told a crowd of several thousand people seated on one side of the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a reputed Ku Klux Klan leader.
“This fundamental right remains under assault. The conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years. Since the 2020 election, a wave of states and dozens and dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the ‘Big Lie’ and the election deniers now elected to office,” he said.
WaPo: The bewildering descent of Scott Adams and “Dilbert”
Split Verdict In Tina Peters Trial
Former Mesa County, Colorado clerk Tina Peters was convicted Friday of one count of obstructing government operations but acquitted of one count of obstructing a peace officer. Sentencing is scheduled for April 10.
Peters, who lost her 2022 bid for secretary of state and is now running to chair the Colorado Republican Party, is scheduled to stand trial again in August on the bigger case involving allegations of a security breach in the clerk’s office in 2021. She has pleaded not guilty.
Politico: DHS has a domestic-intelligence program
- Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) won’t run for president to avoid a “multicar pileup” in the GOP primary that could help Donald Trump win.
- Politico: Once an albatross around Trump’s neck, Jan. 6 is now taboo in the GOP primary
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) fanned the political fires over COVID in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
- Vulnerable and even not-so-vulnerable Democratic senators are poised to vote to interfere in the District of Columbia’s self-rule.
What A Gem
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