A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Jack Smith Zeroes In On Obstruction In MAL Case
While we wait to see what’s actually in the Trump indictment in New York state, some potential bombshell news in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe.
The Washington Post story published Sunday seems to rely on the accounts of witnesses who have been questioned by Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team. What they recount suggests an increasing focus on the obstruction of justice aspect of the probe.
To be clear, obstruction has been a key element of this probe for a while now. It was cited in the search warrant for MAL. But as WaPo puts it:
The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump’s Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case —whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records.
But the bombshell in the story is the suggestion that Trump himself may have gone through the documents in question after a federal grand jury in DC issued a subpoena for their return:
In the classified documents case, federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.
Investigators now suspect, based on witness statements, security camera footage, and other documentary evidence, that boxes including classified material were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area after the subpoena was served, and that Trump personally examined at least some of those boxes, these people said.
More on this in the coming days.
Big Week Ahead!
Former President Donald Trump’s expected arraignment Tuesday in New York City will of course be the story of the week. Some key points:
- We still don’t know what’s in the indictment! It’s expected to be unsealed tomorrow. Will it stick closely to the Stormy Daniels hush money scheme or go deeper into Trump business practices? Not clear.
- Trump to arrive in NYC today, with some supporters expected to rally at Trump Tower at 11 a.m. ET.
- Trump will surrender at the DA’s office Monday before his arraignment in the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building. Another protest is planned nearby midday Tuesday, the NYT reports.
- WaPo: “An advance team of Secret Service agents — mostly comprised of New York field office agents — conducted a site tour of the courthouse on Friday to map Trump’s path in and out of the building, according to a law enforcement official involved in the planning.”
- The Guardian: “Donald Trump vows to escalate attacks against Alvin Bragg”
- Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance on the week ahead.
- For those dismissing the hush money scheme as small potatoes, a reminder that Trump was cheating to win the 2016 election and then spent years trying to cover it up.
- Former Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance was doing interviews over the weekend and made some news by revealing that the Southern District of New York had asked his office to stand down in the hush money investigation. For the better part of a year and half Vance’s office did stand down, he said, but after SDNY obtained the conviction of Michael Cohen the case went dark.
Fox Takes Huge Hit In Dominion Case
Dominion Voting Systems won a huge victory Friday in its billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against Fox News. The judge denied Fox News’ motion for summary judgment in its favor and granted in part Dominion’s motion for summary judgment on liability.
In his ruling, the judge said it was “CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” meaning that Dominion has already won on the issue of falsity. The jury won’t even get to consider whether the statements were untrue because the judge said it’s irrefutable that they’re false.
That leaves for the jury the issues of actual malice – did Fox News publish the false statements knowing they were false or in reckless disregard of the truth of the matter? – and damages.
A major win for Dominion.
Pro-Trump Ratfucker Convicted In Anti-Hillary Scheme
Douglass Mackey was convicted Friday of conspiracy in a long-running case stemming from the 2016 election. Mackey was convicted of circulating messages on Twitter encouraging Clinton supporters to vote by text and social media (which is, of course, not possible).
WTF 60 Minutes?
Lesley Stahl’s almost-fawning interview with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was painful to watch. Greene is “as famous as they get” thanks to her “sharp tongue and some pretty radical views.” Ain’t she cute?
Stahl describes Greene as “smart and fearless” with a “history of believing in conspiracy theories.” It’s just gets worse and gauzier from there.
It’s obvious that Stahl thinks she’s doing her duty by confronting Greene with some of her more incendiary remarks, but the whole interview is packaged and framed in a way that normalizes and excuses MTG. It’s remarkably bad, especially by the show’s historical standards.
A sample of the reaction to Greene NOT getting the usual 60 Minutes treatment made famous by Don Hewitt and Mike Wallace:
Fetterman Discharged From Walter Reed
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) is back home after in-patient treatment for depression. As he prepares to return to the Senate when it reconvenes April 17, he spoke to Jane Pauley for a Sunday Morning segment:
Good To Be Back!
I’m back in the saddle after two weeks in southern Patagonia. It was an almost complete escape from politics (except conversations about the hyperinflation in Argentina and the controversial salmon farming industry in Chile were unavoidable).
I’m still recovering from a grueling 4-day, 40-mile trek with full packs in Argentina through some of the most rugged terrain I’ve ever hiked. A week of recovery and more modest excursions in Chile (a 12-mile day hike on the W felt low key by comparison) soothed the reentry.
We were fortunate to have splendid weather for almost the entire trip. Cloudless blue skies in Patagonia are apparently a rarity?
My reading material for the trip happened to be a galley of David Grann’s soon-to-be-released The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder. I came to the gripping story as a blank slate and only realized on the flight down that the shipwreck at the center of the story occurred along the Chilean coast of Patagonia. Serendipity! The epic struggles of the crew were made more tangible having experienced a little taste of the Patagonian winds, cold, and ever-shifting skies. Before this trip, I hadn’t spent sustained time in such an inhospitable environment. It’s gorgeous, breathtaking even, but also forbidding, relentless, and indifferent. Highly recommend!
Thanks to the TPM Team, especially Nicole Lafond, for keeping Morning Memo afloat in my absence.
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