Inside Trump’s Post-Presidential Hell Of Criminal Probes And Feeble Lawyering

INSIDE: Lindsey Graham ... Beto ... Artemis
US President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / A... US President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via 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.

Not Ready For Primetime

A flurry of new reporting over the weekend further cemented the impression that Trump and his legal team (to the extent there is a legal “team” … more on that in a moment) are walking blithely unprepared into what could be the most serious criminal culpability he has yet faced in his long and illustrious career of staying one step ahead of the law.

So about that legal team. Here’s how the two main figures on that team – Evan Corcoran and Jim Trusty – came to be hired, according to the NYT:

Mr. Trusty was hired after Mr. Trump saw him on television, people close to the former president have said. Mr. Corcoran came in during the spring, introduced by another Trump adviser during a conference call in which Mr. Corcoran made clear he was willing to take on a case that many of Mr. Trump’s other advisers were seeking to avoid, people briefed on the discussion said.

Who is overseeing that team? So glad you asked:

The closest thing to a legal quarterback in Mr. Trump’s orbit is Boris Epshteyn, a onetime lawyer at the firm Milbank who was a political adviser to Mr. Trump in 2016, ultimately becoming a senior staff member on his inaugural effort and then a strategic adviser on the 2020 campaign.

Mr. Epshteyn has championed Mr. Trump’s claims, dismissed by dozens of courts, that the election was stolen from him, and has risen to a role he has described to colleagues as an “in-house counsel,” helping to assemble Mr. Trump’s current legal team.

Corcoran in particular seems in over his head:

Mr. Corcoran in particular has raised eyebrows within the Justice Department for his statements to federal officials during the documents investigation. People briefed on the investigation say officials are uncertain whether Mr. Corcoran was intentionally evasive, or simply unaware of all the material still kept at Mar-a-Lago and found during the Aug. 8 search by the F.B.I.

Not Much To Work With?

Mother Jones: Trump’s Lawyers Don’t Seem to Have Much of a Defense

Trump-Appointed Judge Signals She’ll Name A Special Master

U.S District Judge Aileen M. Cannon has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to consider President Trump’s request for a special master to review the documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

The judge’s scheduling notice over the weekend suggested she’s inclined to appoint a special master, but it’s not clear what the special master’s brief would be. Reviewing seized materials for documents covered by attorney-client privilege would be a relatively routine role for a special master. Reviewing for documents covered by executive privilege, which is what Trump was asking a special master to do, would not be routine, especially since the privilege is not the ex-president’s to assert.

The judge gave the Justice Department a Tuesday deadline to respond.

Trump’s team treated the judge’s weekend actions as a win. Not so fast:

Clue On Timing

NYT: “Prosecutors working on the investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified information are nowhere near making a recommendation to Mr. Garland, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.”

More Missing Docs?

WaPo: “But the Archive’s work may not yet be done: Some NARA officials believe that there might still be more records missing, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

They’ve Already Shown They’ll Riot No Matter What

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warns of riots in the streets if Trump is prosecuted after the Clinton’s weren’t:

How Much Damage Did Trump Do?

The intelligence community along with the Justice Department will assess the damage done by Trump’s improper possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers in a letter Friday.

I’ve Seen More Robust Defenses

You can see a little light emerging between Trump and some elected Republicans on the Mar-a-Lago document fiasco. It’s not a lot of light, and it would be easy to over-interpret it, but let’s note it for what it is … at least for now.

It’s Not Just Blake Masters

We have another one folks:

In case you missed it from late last week, Blake Masters, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in Arizona, similarly scrubbed his campaign website of tough abortion restrictions and tried to pretend he hasn’t been a diehard abortion foe up til now.

GOP Still Gunning For Social Security

From Blake Masters in Arizona to Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Republicans in key 2022 races have floated changes Social Security, TPM alum Sahil Kapur reports.

Beto Out Of Commission With Illness

Beto O’Rourke cancelled campaign events in his run against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after being briefly hospitalized with a bacterial infection.

How’s It Gonna Play Out?

Politico: When an election denier becomes a chief election official

Truth Social Looking A Lot Like Trump Steaks

Trump’s fake Twitter platform “still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth” according to the Washington Post. But this little nugget jumps out: Trump Social has stopped paying one of its key vendors:

There are signs that the company’s financial base has begun to erode. The Trump company stopped paying RightForge, a conservative web-hosting service, in March and now owes it more than $1 million, according to Fox Business, which first reported the dispute.

Ukraine Update

WSJ: Russia Moves to Reinforce Its Stalled Assault on Ukraine

NYT: The ‘MacGyvered’ Weapons in Ukraine’s Arsenal

WSJ: U.N. Inspectors Head to Ukraine Nuclear Plant as Safety Fears Grow

Countdown Delays

Artemis I, NASA’s Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft, sits at Launch Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. The launch of the unmanned test flight on a moon-orbit mission is scheduled for 8:33 a.m., Monday, with NASA forecasting an 80% chance of launch. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The first flight of NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which was scheduled for this morning, has hit some snags.

Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Correction: This post originally misidentified Blake Masters as the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee. He is, of course, the GOP’s nominee for U.S. Senate from Arizona. We regret the error.

Latest Morning Memo
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: