Dems Fall For GOP’s Kabuki Theater Over Ukraine, Israel, And The Border

INSIDE: Elon Musk ... Jack Smith ... Fani Willis
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) leaves a caucus meeting ahead of a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House of Representatives on December 01, 2023 in Washington, ... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) leaves a caucus meeting ahead of a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House of Representatives on December 01, 2023 in Washington, DC. Johnson said he would vote against Santos' expulsion. Charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with 23 felonies in New York including fraud and campaign finance violations, Santos, 35, is facing expulsion from the House of Representatives after the Ethics Committee reported that it found “substantial evidence” that he had violated the law. If expelled, Santos would be just the sixth person in U.S. history to be expelled from the House of Representatives. (Photo by Drew Angerer/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.

Hostages For The Taking

It’s a measure of the GOP’s successful demagoguing of Ukraine that the bill finally released last night on the Senate side is widely referred to by the shorthand “border bill.” If you win the naming war, you win a lot.

Border concessions were of course the ransom the GOP demanded be paid. Now Dems have agreed publicly to pay it — and Republicans look ready to walk away. It’s not clear a majority of Senate Republicans will support the package. House Republicans have already called it DOA.

It’s not just Ukraine aid that is at stake. Aid to Israel and Gaza is included. All of it in jeopardy over yet another negotiation in which Democrats are held hostage, negotiate against themselves, and watch Republicans walk away from the deal they demanded because not only is no deal good enough but any “deal” is by definition a cave, a surrender, a capitulation to the evildoers on the other side of the negotiating table.

Republicans as a whole aren’t a viable negotiating partner because any one Republican, including any Republican at the negotiating table, can be quickly outflanked on the right and lose any bargaining power.

Democrats participate anyway because, to give it the most most favorable interpretation I can, they believe that they will come out looking better having tried and having exposed GOP bad faith. No matter that this has failed to come to fruition countless times in the past decade. No matter that it cedes the framing of the debate to the GOP, lets Republican electeds off the hook, concedes way too much, and generates news coverage helpful to the GOP and problematic for Dems.

We’ve seen this play before.

Our Generation’s Henry Ford

Elon Musk embraces the Great Replacement Theory, and historian Kevin Kruse unpacks the racist stupidity: “I know, I know, it’s hard to believe a guy whose grandfather left Canada because it was becoming too diverse and decided to relocate the family to a newly-segregated South Africa could ever embrace paranoid racist nonsense, but here we are.”

Reap What You Sow

Dearborn, Michigan, ramped up police patrols at places of worship in response to fallout from a WSJ op-ed titled “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital.”

Why Fani Why?

Morning Memo kept its powder dry until Atlanta DA Fani Willis formally responded in court to the claims she had a romantic relationship with the Nathan Wade, one of the special prosecutors she hired to help handle the Georgia RICO prosecution of Donald Trump et al — though it became pretty apparent before her response Friday that she wasn’t denying it.

Willis and Wade admitted to the relationship in the filing, but they hung a lot on their claim that it didn’t begin until after he’d been hired and they’d begun working together. If that holds up to scrutiny, I guess that makes it slightly better?

But it sucks that anyone working on any of the historic and high-profile Trump cases would do anything to give him an edge, advantage or fodder with which to work. The stakes are too high. The sacrifices that everyone else is making — witnesses, investigators, line prosecutors, jurors, court personnel — to bring to Trump to account deserves deference and respect. If you don’t want to make those sacrifices yourself, fine. Get out of the way.

Unfortunately, Willis committed her entire office to this effort and she can’t easily get out of the way without jeopardizing the case against Trump. So we’re stuck with her. Most legal observers don’t think this gives Trump an actual advantage in court, just in the political and public fray. We’ll see in a few days when the trial judge addresses all of this in an evidentiary hearing.

One coda to all this: I do wonder whether a male prosecutor would have been tagged with the same kind of public humiliation if he had engaged in similar conduct as Willis.

It’s Official

What’s been obvious for a couple of weeks is now official: U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan formally cancelled the March 4 trial for Donald Trump in the big election subversion case while his immunity appeal drags on.

And We Wait …

Still nothing from the DC Circuit on presidential immunity.

Jack Smith Hits Back Hard At Trump

Special Counsel Jack Smith is forced to educate U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon at length on why Trump’s counter-narrative in the Mar-a-Lago case is bogus, evidence-free, and self-serving. It’s quite a read.

DQ Clause Week In DC

As we prep for Supreme Court oral arguments Thursday on whether Trump is eligible for the presidency under the Constitution’s Disqualification Clause, some reading for you diehards:

  • Yale historian Timothy Snyder: Bad Arguments and Good Historians
  • Politico: Here’s What Happens if Trump Gets Kicked Off the Ballot

From The Department Of Ignorance Is Bliss

Philip Bump: Most Republicans aren’t aware of Trump’s various legal issues

J.D. Vance: I’d Have Coup’ed, Too

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) wasn’t in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 but he made it clear in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that if he had been in Vice President Mike Pence’s shoes he’d have gone along with Trump’s fake electors scheme.

[Sponsored] An Inside Story Of The Democratic Party At A Moment Of Great Peril

The Truce, from journalists Hunter Walker (of Talking Points Memo) and Luppe B. Luppen, explores the major fault lines that define Democratic politics today and asks big questions about the future of the party. An engrossing page-turner, The Truce grapples with the dangers that threaten American democracy and the complicated cast of characters who are trying to save it.

Buy the book

2024 Ephemera

  • Biden romps in South Carolina Democratic primary.
  • Why you can safely ignore the Nevada GOP primary/caucus mess.
  • NBC News poll: Trump leads Biden 47%-42% among registered voters nationally.
  • Donald Trump fans MAGA flames against Ronna McDaniel.
  • SNL gives Nikki Haley a do-over on slavery and the Civil War:

Good Read

WaPo: The wild probe into investors of DWAC, Trump Media’s proposed merger ally

Oh …

Tucker Carlson visits Moscow and may interview Putin.

Ground Yourself On A Monday

Whatever controversy there was about Luke Combs’ success covering Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” Chapman put it aside last night at the Grammy’s:

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Notable Replies

  1. Good of Stephanopoulos to cut JD off and end the interview. More reporters need to be doing this.

  2. Where do these people live? Inside blocked mine adits in the Mojave Desert?

    Most Republicans aren’t aware of Trump’s various legal issues.

  3. They don’t want to know.

  4. Sabotaging Ukraine’s effort to defend itself is more Pro Russian than anything McCarthy fetished about. To allow a country to lose it’s identity and sovereignty to another known for cruel colonialism…just to satisfy the selfish contrarian wishes of one man, Trump, is obscene and the world will treat us as such.

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