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Republicans Assumed the Midterms were a Mere Formality Prime Badge

TPM Reader BB has his own take on JD Vance’s struggles in Ohio …

I am not the long-time resident of Ohio that RJ is, but I live outside of Cincinnati, and one thing that has been striking to me (and might explain the Senate Leadership Fund ad buy) is the degree to which Vance just disappeared from the airwaves after the primary. I have seen constant ads from Tim Ryan, both talking about himself (working class Ohioan, agreed with Trump on trade, not about parties… basically what you would expect from a smart Democrat trying to win in Ohio) and bashing on Vance (elite snobbish fake from San Francisco, does not care about Ohioans just his political career, etc.). Only within the last couple of weeks have I seen a single TV ad from Vance, basically his wife talking about what a nice guy he is and how she hopes Ohio will give him a chance, which is invariably followed by several Ryan ads with cops and military vets talking about how much Vance sucks. It has just been a remarkably one-sided affair. I assume that at least part of the problem is a lack of money on Vance’s part, though it is odd that I have not seen ads from outside groups, either. Maybe overconfidence on their part?

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Saving Private Vance Prime Badge

TPM Reader RJ gives us some background to understand how the Ohio Senate race is unfolding. I don’t know if RJ was prompted by this news. But Republicans now seem to believe – rightly, I think – that they run a very real chance of losing that seat and have ordered in what amounts to TV carpet bombing of the race.

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One Vague Reference

The Times has a story disclosing the fact that investigators have interviewed both Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his Deputy Patrick Philbin in their classified documents inquiry. That’s not surprising. The two were also originally tasked with liaising with the National Archives on Trump’s behalf. But it does clarify one thing. If Trump had really had the “standing order” about documents he took home automatically becoming declassified, such an order would certainly have gone through the Counsel’s office. Obviously that never happened and we can infer that investigators know that as a fact directly from these two men.

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Fun Times in TrumpLand Prime Badge

The articles that make you feel the best are the ones to be most skeptical of. But with that said, this article in The Guardian certainly brought a smile to my face and satisfied a need for a schadenfreude fix. A federal judge will now decide whether to release some portions of the affidavit in support of the search of Mar-a-Lago. There’s the warrant and the inventory, both of which the target gets to see. It’s the affidavit that lays out why are we doing this; why is it important; what larger schemes are we investigating that requires us to go into this home and look for stuff.

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Was ‘Putin’s Chef’ Prigozhin Touring Occupied Ukraine? Prime Badge
The man behind the infamous Russian troll farm seems to have surfaced on the front lines.
GOP Fixin’ to Kick Oz and Masters Off the Island? Prime Badge

Fascinating report here from the Times’ Shane Goldmacher. The national GOP — meaning the top DC party committees and leadership PACs — appears to be significantly ramping back support for Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Blake Masters in Arizona and even Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Here’s the Times story and here’s Goldmacher’s Twitter thread, which I at least found easier to follow.

These stories are always a bit hard to interpret and everyone wants to jump forward with tendentious interpretations. Basically the top Senate party committee canceled a bunch of ad buy reservations in these states. Some of it is an effort to redeploy spending to less regulated parts of the campaign finance ecosystem, away from joint campaigns and hybrid spends. Some of these spending channels require the campaign to put up a minimum percentage of the spend in hard money. But the campaigns themselves are struggling financially. So they can’t afford their part.

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A Response to Jack Goldsmith
The TRUTH Social website is seen on a mobile device with an image of former US president Donald Trump in the background in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. TRUTH Social is a newly developed social media platform by the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) modelled after Twitter. The initiative was taken after Trump himself had been banned from Facebook and Twitter in 2021. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto)

Jack Goldsmith has a lengthy discussion at the Lawfare Blog of whether Attorney General Garland was right to seek a search warrant to search and seize records from ex-President Trump’s Florida estate. It is a good discussion, though one might say the very brazenness of Trump’s indifference to the law has a way of rendering precious or quaint any serious and deliberate discussion of potential consequences. Most of Goldsmith’s discussion can be boiled down to this: it all depends on what’s in the documents, just how secret they needed to be and what Trump was planning to do with them. And it’s hard to disagree with that — of course it does. But Goldsmith’s analysis is missing something.

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Flying Blind Prime Badge

Some interesting and absurd but still noteworthy events overnight. Trump’s representatives, at least for the moment, have settled on a story which is that he had a “standing order” that any and all classified materials he took home with him to the White House residence was “deemed” declassified. So in fact, none of the materials in question are classified and none of it matters. This was announced on Fox as an official statement from Trump’s office by John Solomon, the notorious fake news hustler who is now operating as Trump’s “designated representative” to the National Archives.

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Into the Storm Prime Badge

We are, we might say, deep in the thick of it. Until recently we heard constantly how there was no accountability for the ex-President, no investigations or prosecutions, of anything tied to the denouement of the Trump presidency, save for the men who actually entered the Capitol complex on January 6th. Now we learn that there are and have been multiple investigations touching on various incidents tied to the end of the Trump presidency. There was a bunch of frothy and nonsensical chatter earlier in the week about how the FBI had just given the presidency back to Donald Trump. This morning the House Freedom Caucus, ground zero of Trumpism and coup plotting, canceled the press conference they had planned to bewail the FBI search of the ex-President’s home. Facts change and you have to react to them.

It is probably best to say that we are back in one of those fugue windows Trump Republicans have, much like January 7th-9th 2021, in which there’s a period of relative silence while a story is devised to explain why something inexplicable and indefensible is in fact awesome and totally fine. They’ll get there.

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