Don’t Lose Your Bearings In The Debate Over DOJ’s Initial Slowness In Investigating Trump

INSIDE: Donald Trump ... Mike Pence ... Mike Lindell
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco arrive to deliver remarks at the U.S. Justice Department on November 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. Garland ... WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco arrive to deliver remarks at the U.S. Justice Department on November 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. Garland announced he will appoint a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into former President Donald Trump and his handling of classified documents and actions before the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. Garland's pick to oversee the special counsel is Jack Smith, an international criminal court prosecutor. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/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.

DOJ Needed A Different Playbook

The big WaPo story over the weekend about the early delays in investigating the higher-ups in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election has set off a new round of invective and backbiting in a public debate that I ultimately find a bit dispiriting and unenlightening.

I’ll put my cards on the table so you know where I’m coming from: I do think DOJ was slow off the mark in 2021 in investigating the Jan. 6 attack as the culmination of a wide-ranging conspiracy that we date back to beginning in April 2020.

I generally don’t think the slowness was the result of malfeasance, some underground FBI effort to protect Trump, or malpractice. Rather, it was due to the same lack of imagination and understanding about the threat to the Republic that Trump and MAGA world pose that has bedeviled our politics for coming up on a decade.

I’m not going to rehash the whole debate here. But I will suggest that the arguments that don’t take into account the ticking of the clock toward the next election and the narrow window that left DOJ in which to achieve justice are not fulling grappling with the problem.

If the big criminal case against Trump had been, say, financial fraud, then the normal DOJ playbook of slow, careful, methodical working of its way from small fish up to bigger fish would have made sense. But the big case against Trump involved the threat to democracy itself, and specifically to elections. The next election, Trump’s potential and now actual candidacy, the risk that the 2020 conspiracy would continue in 2024, the real chance that Trump would use his re-election to entrench himself in power in extra-constitutional ways, those were the new, different, and unprecedented challenges that nearly everyone, including I’m afraid the highest levels of the Justice Department, have been slow to internalize.

As I’ve said before, DOJ seems fully on track now. The slowness is water under the bridge, though we’ll still be paying the price for that potentially for years to come. Onward though. It’s not worth losing ourselves in this debate.

Judge Sets Trial Date For MAL Case

A few moments ago, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon issued a scheduling order in the Mar-a-Lago case, setting an initial trial date of Aug. 14, 2023.

First off, this is not going to trial in August of this year. Politico’s Kyle Cheney explains why.

But this still remains an important early marker. Had Cannon set the initial trial date for August 2024, for example, it would have signaled a slow-walking of the case that guaranteed it would not be complete before the election.

It’s still a very tight window, and she still will have many opportunities to slow-roll the case. But she’s not doing it here with the initial trial date.

Trump Keeps On Making Admissions

The last Morning Memo before this one was devoted to Trump’s ongoing public confessions of his Mar-a-Lago criming. He can’t stop. Won’t stop. In part one of a two-part interview, the second of which has yet to air, Trump told Fox News’ Bret Baier:

Here’s the video:

‘Even Stronger Than I Expected’

Ruth Marcus: A former prosecutor explains what surprised her most about Trump’s indictment

Someone Finally Asked THE Question

Trump Attorney Cites ‘Irreconcilable Differences’

Trump attorney James Trusty, who withdrew from his representation of Trump in the Mar-a-Lago case immediately after the indictment was handed down, has also stepped aside from Trump’s civil defamation lawsuit against CNN. Trusty cited “irreconcilable differences” with Trump as the basis for withdrawal.

What Does This Mean Exactly?

Former Vice President Mike Pence is joining with the Donald Trump and the MAGA wing of the GOP in promising to bring the Justice Department to heel. But he seems to be suggesting he would do what every president does: Select political appointees of his own choosing for DOJ.

You Thought Trump I Was Bad …

Wait for Trump II:

Mr. Trump has been selling his name to global real estate developers for more than a decade. But the Oman deal has taken his financial stake in one of the world’s most strategically important and volatile regions to a new level, underscoring how his business and his politics intersect as he runs for president again amid intensifying legal and ethical troubles.

Oh …

The Fox News producer behind the Biden is a “wannabe dictator” chyron is no longer with the network:

Almost Funny Or Actually Funny?

The RNC is waking up to the fact that being against early voting and voting by mail is electoral suicide. But its change of heart is making the My Pillow guy go apeshit, TPM’s Hunter Walker reports.

Must Read

I’m a little biased but TPM’s Kate Riga has the best explanation I’ve seen to date on how and why the risk of a government shutdown has grown in the days since a debt ceiling deal was finalized.

The mechanisms that the debt ceiling deal put in place to avert a government shutdown are more complicated than they first appeared from the news coverage. Kate digs in to what the debt ceiling deal provided and how the various stakeholders are interpreting and responding to them.

It’s worth a read to get yourself grounded in the underlying dynamics.

‘I Just Need A Camera For Streaming’

The FBI has arrested a Michigan man for allegedly planning a mass shooting at a synagogue in East Lansing.

The Dobbs Anniversary

WaPo: How Democrats will highlight abortion restrictions this week

Think Big

Illustration of vapour plumes erupting from the surface of Enceladus, Saturns sixth largest moon, created on July 26, 2018. (Illustration by Tobias Roetsch/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Smithsonian: “Scientists have detected the presence of the sixth and final essential ingredient of life in ice grains spewed into space from the ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.”

Like Morning Memo? Let us know!

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: