Trump Is Definitely Not Going On Trial In DC In March

INSIDE: Tanya Chutkan ... Fani Willis ... Mike Johnson
PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JANUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump dances off stage at the conclusion of a campaign rally at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel on J... PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JANUARY 17: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump dances off stage at the conclusion of a campaign rally at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel on January 17, 2024 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. According to a poll conducted by Saint Anselm College and released Tuesday, Trump is at 52 percent, far ahead of fellow candidates, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is polling at 38 percent, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is polling at 8 percent. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/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.

CONFIRMED: Trial Date In Jan. 6 Case Is A Bust

I knew it. You knew it. We all knew it.

But U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan all but confirmed yesterday that the March trial date of Donald Trump in the Jan. 6 case in DC is unlikely to hold due to his appeal of his claim that the president enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution.

The acknowledgement came parenthetically in a ruling Thursday that said: No, Special Counsel Jack Smith is not in contempt of court for continuing to meet his discovery obligations to Trump and by filing the occasional motion (though she also said let’s stop with filing substantive motions until you obtain leave of court).

Buried in parentheses, Chutkan quotes herself in a previous status hearing in the case: (“A trial start date of March 4, 2024, gives Mr. Trump seven months between indictment and trial, which I believe is sufficient time to advise with counsel and prepare his defense.”)

That line suggests she will want Trump to still have the same amount of time to prepare for trial once the immunity appeal is exhausted. That’s an interpretation of what she’s saying. She wasn’t quite that explicit: “Contrary to Defendant’s assertion, the court has
not and will not set deadlines in this case based on the assumption that he has undertaken
preparations when not required to do so.”

But it’s pretty clear she is pausing the pre-trial clock while the pre-trial process is paused, and she’ll resume running the clock when the appeal is over.

Trump Makes His Case On DQ Clause To SCOTUS

No surprises in Donald Trump’s brief to the Supreme Court asking it to overturn the Colorado Supreme Court decision striking him from the GOP primary ballot. The contour of his argument remains the same as before:

  • The president is not subject to the Disqualification Clause because he’s not an “officer of the United States” and doesn’t take the kind of oath that it requires.
  • He did not engage in “insurrection.”
  • The Disqualification Clause is not self-executing, meaning Congress must take steps to enforce it.
  • The Disqualification Clause doesn’t prevent an insurrectionist from running for office, only from holding office.
  • The Colorado court exceeded its authority under the Constitution’s Elector’s Clause.

Say It Ain’t So

Two significant developments yesterday in the unnecessary but perhaps now unavoidable sideshow in the Georgia RICO case:

  1. The judge in the case scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Feb. 15 on the claims that Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis was romantically involved with one of the three special prosecutors she hired to help on the case.
  2. Willis filed a motion in the special prosecutor’s divorce case to quash his wife’s subpoena seeking Willis’ testimony.

I highlight “evidentiary” because this isn’t simply a motion hearing where the sides will argue over the law. The judge wants evidence put forward, which almost certainly means Willis is going to have to say something on the record about the claims. In the meantime, she has a Feb. 2 deadline to respond to the pending motion in writing.

As for the Willis filing in the divorce case, she has a number of plausible arguments for why she shouldn’t be dragged into the divorce proceedings – but it does not contain a denial that Willis had a romantic relationship with the special prosecutor. In that respect, it’s similar to comments she made in a Black church in Atlanta over the weekend where she admitted to not being perfect but did not deny the substance of the allegation.

As general matter, even if the claims are true, they should not lead to the dismissal of the case. But they’re a complicating factor in a monumental case with incredibly high stakes. How complicating? It’s too early to say. We’ll have a better read after Willis’ Feb. 2 filing is made.

E. Jean Carroll Trial Resumes Next Week

The trial judge became even more acerbic during Thursday’s trial proceedings, continuing to pound Trump’s attorneys as E. Jean Carroll’s testimony ended and expert witnesses took the stand. More analysis and insights on the case:

  • Marcy Wheeler: “Trump is attending this trial, which will almost certainly result in much larger award for Carroll than she would otherwise get, in order to delegitimize it. And Trump has decided it is worth millions to do that.”
  • Daily Beast: Trump Team’s New Courtroom Argument: E. Jean Carroll Is Lucky He Defamed Her
  • Trump is following Rudy Giuliani’s treacherous path:

DOJ Wants Navarro Jailed For Six Months

Ahead of next week’s sentencing of Trump White House official Peter Navarro for his contempt of Congress conviction, the Justice Department filed its sentencing memo recommending six months in prison and a $200,000 fine.

Truer Words Never Spoken

Not Looking Good

NBC News: Disinformation poses an unprecedented threat in 2024 — and the U.S. is less ready than ever

House GOP Is Up To The Same Old Antics

A government shutdown was averted for now with another continuing resolution, but Speaker Mike Johnson once again needed Democratic help to overcome the split House GOP.

Quote Of The Day

If we keep extending the pain, creating more suffering, we will pay the price at the ballot box. At this point, we’re sucking wind because we can’t get past the main object in the road. … We need to get the hell out of the way. Cut the best deals we can get and then get on with the political year.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and the House GOP’s internal impasse on government funding for 2024

The Current Environment

Threats against members of Congress increased in 2023, Capitol Police reported.

2024 Ephemera

  • Nikki Haley: Trump’s going birther on me because he’s “threatened” and “insecure.”
  • Politico: The New Hampshire primary ain’t what it used to be.
  • An interview with the NYT Pitchbot guy: “My tweets critique how the media frames things. They help get to the bottom of all the both sidesing and ridiculous framing that goes on at places like the New York Times.”

Live Large This Weekend!

Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for dont dont says:

    More important than pics:
    Stop the Stall

    Now back to reading MM.

  2. I think sending all the enablers to jail is the way to go
    it will make anyone willing to help the next coup think twice

Continue the discussion at

1106 more replies


Avatar for josephebacon Avatar for jnbenson Avatar for mondfledermaus Avatar for steviedee111 Avatar for inversion Avatar for sniffit Avatar for chelsea530 Avatar for ralph_vonholst Avatar for lastroth Avatar for leftcoaster Avatar for fiftygigs Avatar for pshah Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for 21zna9 Avatar for tsp Avatar for evave2 Avatar for godwit Avatar for eaharrison Avatar for txlawyer Avatar for zenicetus Avatar for trustywoods Avatar for dicktater Avatar for Hatmama Avatar for iafixture

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