Will The Supreme Court Bail Out Trump In Colorado?

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Aileen Cannon ... Rudy G
Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump gestures at the end of a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on December 19, 2023. An appeals court in Colorado on December 19, 2023 ruled Donald Trump can... Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump gestures at the end of a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, on December 19, 2023. An appeals court in Colorado on December 19, 2023 ruled Donald Trump cannot appear on the state's presidential primary ballot because of his involvement in the attack on the Capitol in January 2021. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/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.

Colorado Ruling Continues To Reverberate

After the Disqualification Clause cases ran into headwinds in Minnesota and Michigan courts, I was not expecting much from the effort in Colorado. So much so that we didn’t even prep a pre-write (a draft prepared in anticipation of a news event) for the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

But in my defense(!), we’d been covering each of the cases closely mostly via TPM’s Josh Kovensky so the issues weren’t new to us, unlike for so many others (see below).

Yesterday was a weird day of watching fair-minded people of good faith play catch up – and watching Trump world and right-wing media perform an epic flip-out.

I would just be very cautious as a reader about anyone who is expressing certainty about what the Supreme Court will do in this case. It’s very complicated, the court has many options available, and while the ideological divide on the court is a real dynamic I wouldn’t take the easy route of letting that drive your expectations.

In that spirit of uncertainty, I wanted to share a bit from law professor Steve Vladeck, who is of the view that the Supreme Court is likely to let this case ride for a bit and decide it not immediately but before the end of the term in June, meaning Trump would remain on the Colorado GOP primary ballot:

The Colorado Supreme Court stayed its ruling until January 4—and, if Trump seeks review from the U.S. Supreme Court by then, indefinitely until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves Trump’s appeal. Given that the ballot-printing deadline for the primary election in Colorado is January 5 (which is certainly not a coincidence), the stay all-but guarantees that Trump will be on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado. The real question is what happens thereafter.

I also think it is inevitable that the U.S. Supreme Court will step in. The stay just means it won’t have to do anything immediately—and can take up the matter on an expedited, but not insanely compressed, schedule. In other words, the Court could plan to resolve the case by the end of its current term (so, June), and the decision would come in time to resolve whether Trump could appear on the general election ballot in Colorado. (The Court will likely want to move faster; the point is that it has months, not weeks, to do so.)

That’s definitely one possible route for the court to take. I’m not quite as confident that it will take that course. But again, there’s no certainty here. So no need for predictions. Just watch this play out for now.

The Campaign And Elections Prism Remains The Wrong One

Don’t rely on political reporters to cover the Disqualification Clause story well.

On The Ground In Colorado

Now We Wait For The Supreme Court

Now that Donald Trump has filed his opposition to the Supreme Court taking up his immunity claims immediately and bypassing the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, the ball is in the high court. No way to know when it will rule on whether to take the case, but I would be surprised if we don’t hear by the end of this week due to the urgency and the upcoming holidays.

Also: Be looking for Trump to appeal the Colorado Supreme Court Disqualification Clause ruling to the Supreme Court before the end of the week, too.

Trump’s Lawyering Just Got A Little Bit Better

With the addition of John Sauer of Missouri to his legal team, Trump now has a Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law grad who clerked for Judge Luttig and Justice Scalia. And it definitely showed in the filing with the Supreme Court on the immunity claim. It’s a less bombastic filing that actually grapples with the legal issues rather than merely throwing around political invective.

Still, Sauer has only argued one case before the Supreme Court compared to the more than 100 that Michael Dreeben, the latest addition to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team, has handled.

Pay Up, Rudy!

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell cleared the way for Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss to begin collecting immediately on their $148 million defamation judgment against Rudy Giuliani, amid concerns that he may hide assets from them.

The Latest In the Mar-a-Lago Case

Things continue to be very quiet in the other major federal prosecution of Donald Trump. Thanks, Aileen Cannon! But with sycophantic filings like this one from Trump, you start to wonder at what point Trump’s effort to co-opt her for his own purposes becomes too embarrassing and uncomfortable for her to continue to play along. Probably never, but I do wonder!

Confederate Memorial Removed From Arlington National Cemetery

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – DECEMBER 20: Contractors work to dismantle and remove the Confederate Memorial in Section 16 at Arlington National Cemetery on December 20, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. The U.S. Naming Commission recommended that the Confederate Memorial be removed from the cemetery and relocated to to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Unveiled in 1914, 44 years after the end of the American Civil War, the memorial commemorates members of the armed forces of the Confederate States of America who died during the war. 482 of whom, along with some of their spouses, are buried in a circle around the memorial. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


We’ve spent nearly two decades now banging the drum that Republicans are using bogus claims of voter fraud to restrict voting by people of color. The WaPo has a smart look at the effect of the most recent wave of Republican-led crackdowns in the name of “election integrity.” The prosecutions across six states look like this:

  • 76 percent of defendants whose race or ethnicity could be identified were Black or Hispanic; 24 percent were white.
  • Registered Democrats made up 58 percent of those charged whose party could be identified; registered Republicans were 23 percent. 
  • “Of the 115 cases that have been resolved as of mid-December, 42 ended in dismissal, acquittal or dropped charges — nearly the same as the number of guilty verdicts.”

2024 Ephemera

  • Trump’s GOP rivals are running so scared that they’re condemning the Colorado ruling that takes him off the ballot.
  • 12 states where the fate of abortion rights could be on 2024 ballots
  • CA-Sen poll: Adam Schiff (D) 28%; Steve Garvey (R) 19%; Katie Porter (D) 17%; Barbara Lee (D) 14%
  • Biden condemns Trump for saying that that immigrants are ‘poisoning’ America.
  • Biden campaign pulls no punches, juxtaposing Trump quotes with Hitler quotes:

How Trump Could Decimate the Civil Service

We’ve been covering Trump’s Schedule F scheme since late in his first term, but it remains a central element of his retribution plan for a second term.

For the backstory, here’s some of TPM’s past coverage:

Ukraine Aid Is Dead For This Year

This is a classic example of how politicians bury bad news and are aided and abetted by news coverage that is too credulous.

Ukraine aid has been DOA for several weeks. The House already left town for the holidays, but the Senate kept up the appearances that something might happen for several extra days as negotiations continued over a border package to pair with aid to struggling Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kept the Senate officially in session early this week to add to the sense of potentially imminent action.

But now the Senate has left town, too, without any kind of deal.

The effect of slowrolling the bad news was to dribble out incremental coverage and avoid a wave of definitive “Ukraine Aid Is Dead” headlines. It worked.

What’s Kellyanne Conway Up To These Days?

Ohhh …

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