The Great Equalizer

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Namely, we’re affordable — classy, but inexpensive. And we’re even more affordable than usual right now. If you sign up before the end of the membership drive on Monday, you’ll get access to all the good, the bad and the ugly TPM has to offer at a 40 percent discount. 

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But you didn’t come here for more Jeopardy gloating. Here’s what TPM has on tap for you this weekend:

  • Josh Kovensky previews what to expect next week as he heads to the courthouse to cover the first criminal trial of a former president. 
  • Hunter Walker explains how Trump’s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks legal strategy even included stale internet garbage.
  • Khaya Himmelman does a wellness check on MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell.
  • Plus: More on Mike Johnson and Donald Trump’s spammy “election integrity” team-up. 

Let’s dig in.

— Nicole Lafond

The Great Equalizer

There’s a lot of talk about how trial-by-jury is the great equalizer. A businessman, a drug dealer, a CEO, a petty thief, a president — they all submit to the same process of judgment by a jury of their peers, essentially pulled randomly off the street before selection.

That’s the process we’ll see play out in depth next week. I’ll be at the Manhattan criminal courthouse bright and early on Monday morning, going through rounds of NYPD barricades to make it to the floor of the building that the courthouse has reserved for the Trump trial. For jury selection, the courtroom itself will only have six journalists within. The rest of it will be filled with prospective jurors, Trump, and attorneys.

Once the trial begins, access will free up slightly, though the heavy Secret Service presence will keep everyone on their toes for a while. We’re hoping that jury selection goes by swiftly, allowing the meat of the trial to begin. It’s historic, but let’s not forget the bedrock irony here: you’re going to read and hear a lot about the solemnity of the office of the Presidency and its contrast with all the appurtenances of criminal prosecution.

We’re all supposed to nod along to that, but let’s not forget the reality of this case: Trump is accused of making false payments to hide a tryst he had with a porn star. It’s tabloid stuff, and it goes to the man.

— Josh Kovensky

Trump Opts For The Expired Meme Defense 

As his court date approached, Trump and his attorneys made frantic efforts to have the case delayed or dismissed. This included three straight days of appeals last week and multiple other appeals before that. Trump also unsuccessfully tried to assert presidential immunity last month when the judge declared he tried that move too late and had “had myriad opportunities to raise the claim of presidential immunity well before March 7, 2024.” 

Trump’s throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks legal strategy even included stale internet garbage. On Wednesday, Trump used his Truth Social platform to suggest there was new information he had “just found” that would clear him of any wrongdoing. This was a lie. Trump was simply rehashing a highly public, highly questionable document with a backstory you may already know. If not, you can read all about it here on TPM

The former president wasn’t even the first one to try and revive the document in an effort to defend him ahead of the trial. Trump supporters had been circulating it online so much that the AP was motivated to do a detailed fact check last month. 

Shockingly, Trump’s email chain letter defense did not stop the trial. Meanwhile, over on Instagram, Stormy Daniels is — quite literally — riding off into the sunset. 

— Hunter Walker

MyPillow Guy Is Still Working On A ‘Plan’ To Save Our Country

Election denier and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has been trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election results for years now. And, even though he was unsuccessful in that particular endeavor and even admitted that he was broke last year, he told TPM, in a rambly, disjointed interview this week that he still has a “plan.” 

Like all things with the pillow magnate, the “plan” is a little hazy. But according to Lindell, it centers on getting rid of voting machines in every county in the country.

In his words, it goes something like this: “We’ve got electronic monitoring devices because the big lie says none of these voting machines are online when in fact they’re all online. We’ve got an initiative where we’re going to every county, all 3,143 of them in the United States with a sales pitch.”

The “sales pitch” is a hand-counting system that he claims is “better than France, Germany, UK, Netherlands.”

Lindell has been involved in a larger effort to try to scam counties into adopting a hand counting method of ballot counting—a system fueled by conspiracy theories about voting machines that election experts warn is both inefficient and prone to error. 

Lindell says that of course he is worried about the integrity of the 2024 election because he is worried about any election that uses machines. But he said that he would rather have “computer manipulation” in this upcoming election if it leads to permanently getting rid of voting machines, than the continued use of voting machines.  

“And if that’s what eventually leads to getting rid of these voting machines and getting a paper ballot counted, I would rather have that, “ he said. 

When asked if he ever second guesses pouring all his resources into this project, Lindell responded no. 

“If we give up, we lose our country,” he said. “We lose our freedoms forever. It’s over and it’s run by globalist, deep state uniparty.”

— Khaya Himmelman

Trump and Johnson Promote Latest ‘Election Integrity’ Spam

House Speaker Mike Johnson and former President Donald Trump are promoting a new “election integrity effort” via legislation that would somehow prevent non-citizens from voting — an expected area of fixation heading into 2024 as conspiracy theorists and election deniers look for new places to cast their baseless voter fraud ire. The two met Friday at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago residence to discuss the bill, and, according to reporting from USA Today, “elevate the issue of non-citizens voting in federal elections.”

It’s not surprising that Trump and Johnson are promoting such a measure, even though under federal law, it is already illegal for noncitizens to vote in federal elections. As the Washington Post points out, Trump has consistently alleged that Biden has been strategically getting migrants to illegally cast votes in his favor. In other words, the new “effort” is a continuation of his broader plan to campaign on little other than right-wingers’ overblown Biden crisis at the border.

While in Iowa this past January, Trump suggested that Democrats were registering migrants to vote: “I think they really are doing it because they want to sign these people up to vote. I really do.” He added: “They can’t speak a word of English for the most part, but they’re signing them up.”

— Khaya Himmelman

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