A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Drip, Drip, Drip
Before we dive into the new reporting, a quick caveat: Criminal charges against Trump in the Mar-a-Lago (and now Bedminster!) documents case are not guaranteed. That said, all signs point to charges coming sooner than later. Okay, here’s the latest:
CNN’s Scoop On The Recording Of Trump
The key elements of the big CNN story:
- Trump was recorded at a July 2021 meeting at his Bedminster club in New Jersey touting a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran.
- “On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said.”
- Special Counsel Jack Smith has “focused” on the meeting and has been asking grand jury witnesses about it.
What The NYT Adds To The CNN Report
The NYT followed up CNN’s report with some additional details:
- Trump aide Margo Martin was at the Bedminster meeting and routinely recorded interviews Trump gave. The Times and CNN stop short of saying Martin recorded this one, but the implication is clear.
- Smith did obtain the recording.
The Guardian Adds More Details
Reporter Hugo Lowell has been all over the MAL case:
- The document Trump was touting was classified as “SECRET.”
- “For several minutes of the audio recording, the sources said, Trump talks about how he cannot discuss the document because he no longer possesses the sweeping presidential power to declassify now out of office, but suggests that he should have done so when he was still in the White House.”
- Smith obtained the recording “around March.”
- “The tape was played to multiple witnesses, including Martin, when she testified in mid-March after having her laptop and phones imaged by prosecutors, the sources said. The first time the Trump lawyers learned about the tape was after Martin testified, one of the sources said.”
There’s Still The Matter Of The MAL Surveillance Vid
As if the Bedminster news weren’t enough, the NYT has new details on Jack Smith’s investigation into whether Trump et al. obstructed justice in response to a grand jury subpoena for Mar-a-Lago security footage.
Trump Wants Judge To Recuse In Hush Money Case
Former President Trump is seeking the recusal of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the criminal hush money case in state court in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Trump is still trying to get the case removed to federal court. Morning Memo hasn’t bored you with the procedural details there.
For what it’s worth, I’m skeptical that either prong of Trump’s belt-and-suspenders approach will be successful. Merchan presided over the tax fraud trial of the Trump Org and refused to recuse in that case, too.
Our Manufactured National Nightmare Is Over
The House passed the Biden-McCarthy debt limit deal Wednesday evening, with a majority of Republicans voting in favor of the package. Democrats supplied enough votes to push it over the top, 314-117. It now heads to the Senate, where the only question is how quickly it passes. They’re up against the deadline for when Treasury’s obligations exceed its cash reserves, but I wouldn’t lose much sleep over the bill in the Senate.
A couple of the more interesting aspects of this entirely unnecessary saga:
- Those side deals: The Big Part of the Debt Ceiling Deal Congress Isn’t Talking About
- WaPo: How the debt deal may prevent a shutdown
Sums It Up
HuffPo: After Calling Joe Biden Senile, Republicans Complain He Outsmarted Them
Don’t Lose Perspective
The House GOP is still full Of insurrectionists and conspiracists.
How The Con Works
House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) is still threatening to hold FBI Director Chris Wray in contempt for failing to turn over a confidential investigative document purportedly accusing then-Vice President Joe Biden of bribery, despite Wray offering to show it to Comer privately.
It’s all a bunch of nonsense except for what it shows about the corrupt GOP misinformation factory. In this instance, the document has its roots in the special pipeline Attorney General Bill Barr set up for Rudy Giuliani to funnel misinformation from Ukraine directly into the Justice Department, and now Comer is using it all these years later to attack Biden, as originally intended:
Project Veritas Sues Founder James O’Keefe
Project Veritas’ lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan accuses James O’Keefe of breach of contract, trade secret violations, breach of fiduciary duty and loyalty, and conversion, among other claims. “Being known as the founder of an organization does not entitle that person to run amok and put his own interests ahead of that organization,” Project Veritas said in the complaint.
Maybe If Cain And Abel Had Facebook …
The musician brother of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) in a Facebook post beseeched people not to mistake him for his brother: “Due to recent statements by him promoting racial stereotypes, white nationalism and other various controversial topics, I feel compelled to distance myself from his ignorant, hateful rants.”
The Halal Meat Scandal We’ve Always Needed
Sen. Bob Menendez hosted a 2018 meeting in his Washington, D.C., office with a New Jersey businessman who is a focus of a federal public-corruption probe of the Democratic lawmaker that has broadened in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
The meeting, which hasn’t been previously reported, came months before the businessman, Wael Hana, secured a contract with Egyptian officials for certifying halal meat exports. The contract is a key part of the probe examining whether Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or his wife received gifts in exchange for political favors.
- Mike Pence will launch his presidential campaign in Iowa on June 7.
- Chris Christie will announce his presidential campaign in New Hampshire on June 6.
Lowering The Boom
The losing GOP candidate in New Mexico who is accused of shooting at the homes of Democratic officials has been brought up on new federal charges. That’s in addition to the existing state charges against him.
Abortion clinic and Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph was captured 20 years ago this week.
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