A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
A Lot Of Table Pounding
Overnight, Donald Trump filed a big match of motions in the Jan. 6 case against him, launching a broad legal challenge to the indictment that accuses him of conspiring to subvert the 2020 election.
I would group the four motions into two categories: semi-plausible legal arguments and over-the-top playing to the crowd. To be clear, all of them are bombastic filings, but the first category is broadly what you might expect to see filed, whereas the second category is more uniquely Trumpian.
The first category includes:
- Motion to Dismiss Case Based on Statutory Grounds
- Motion to Dismiss Case Based on Constitutional Grounds
The second category includes:
- Motion to Dismiss Case for Selective and Vindictive Prosecution
- Motion to Strike Inflammatory Allegations From the Indictment
As a general matter, none of them are especially strong motions. (I should mention these are in addition to Trump’s pending motion to dismiss on the grounds of absolute presidential immunity.) But keep in mind that Trump doesn’t need all of these defenses to stick; he just needs a key one or two substantive arguments for appeals courts to hang their hats on.
Some of the initial reaction:
- Politico: “The filings, combined with an earlier motion to dismiss the case citing his ‘immunity’ from prosecution for his conduct as president, represent Trump’s full strategy for preventing the case against him from ever reaching a jury.”
- NYT: “With the flurry of motions filed late on Monday, Mr. Trump has now put on the table all of his attempts to have the election case dismissed before it goes to trial in March.”
- WaPo: “In court filings that landed moments before a midnight deadline, lawyers for Trump claimed he was a victim of political persecution by the Biden administration. They called the charges against Trump legally defective and vague, and said the indictment should not link him to the violence of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, because he is not charged with inciting that riot.”
- Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade: “Trump’s new motions to dismiss on First Amendment, selective prosecution, and double jeopardy grounds are all losers.”
- Marcy Wheeler: Trump’s Motions to Dismiss Things That Aren’t The Charges Against Him
Let The Flippage Begin!
Are you taking outsize enjoyment in watching Trump co-defendants flip? I see you.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance plays the “who’s next?” game with a ragtag band of legal experts.
New Deets On Coffee County Scheme
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s nearly 400-page report to state Attorney General Chris Carr about the Coffee County voting machine caper.
Michael Cohen To Testify Today
After a delay last week, Michael Cohen is expected to testify today in the civil fraud trial against Trump in New York, and Trump himself is expected to be in court for the testimony.
Trump Still Pushing Immunity in Defamation Case
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Monday in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit. Trump is asserting presidential immunity to try to slip out of Carroll’s grasp for comments he made in 2019, while still president, denying her rape allegations.
Maximal Flail As House GOP Turns To Plan D
We may get a modicum of clarity today from the House GOP when it endeavors to vote for a new candidate for speaker – then again, who are we kidding?
None of the speaker candidates enjoy broad-based support within the conference; none seem any more immune to the systemic problems that have already bedeviled Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Jim Jordan; and none are a lock to get the near-unanimous GOP support needed to win on the House floor.
With that in mind:
- We’re down to eight speaker candidates, after Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) gave his speech at the House GOP’s candidate forum then promptly dropped out.
- The tone and tenor of the rabid right members doesn’t appear to have mellowed. “I want to know, which one you have the balls to hold them accountable?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asked the speaker candidates, referring to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
- It is remarkable how little experience in Congress the GOP speaker candidates have.
On The Question Of Ken Buck
Noah Berlatsky tackles the question of what has made Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) suddenly sound like a more reasonable man:
Buck isn’t exactly an honorable man or a good legislator. That’s not surprising; it’s been some time since the GOP has been a party in which honorable people, or good legislators, are at all welcome. That means that opposition to Trump, within the GOP, has to come from people who are compromised, unserious, downright evil, or some combination of all of those things.
Republicans have spent a lot of time constructing a party that encourages members to be their absolutely worst selves. Perhaps Ken Buck is a sign that that’s changing, if only slightly. He’s a bizarre canary in the fascist coal mine — but at this point that’s the only type of canary the GOP has.
Menendez Enters Not Guilty Plea
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pleaded not guilty to the superseding indictment against him, which added a charge of conspiring to act as an agent for Egypt.
- Erdoğan gets no respect: Trump praises Viktor Orbán as the leader of … Turkey.
- A lot of jockeying going on for Rep. George Santos’s seat, a critical swing district in New York.
- Vivek Ramaswamy says withdrawing from NATO is a “reasonable idea” and questioned U.S. membership in the United Nations.
- Israel continues an intense bombardment of Gaza.
- A total of 35 U.N. aide workers have died in Gaza since the Israeli retaliatory strikes began.
- Hamas released two elderly female hostages Monday.
- The Israeli military convened reporters Monday to show them body cam footage from captured Hamas militants as a way of countering denials that the brutal Oct. 7 attack took place:
Antarctica Melt May be Worse Than Feared
Accelerating ice losses are all but “unavoidable” this century in vulnerable West Antarctic ice shelves as waters warm around them, according to new research. And the analysis could mean scientists were too conservative in predicting about one to three feet of sea level rise by 2100.
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