A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
Big Decision For Chutkan
Special Counsel Jack Smith is keeping the pressure on Trump to knock off the constant stream of threats against the court, prosecutors, and witnesses. In a new filing late Friday, Smith put in front of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan another batch of recent examples of Trump doing things most criminal defendants would get in big trouble for doing.
It’s shaping up to be the first big decision by Chutkan in the case.
Motion practice is a like a waltz. Its typical three steps are the motion, the response, and the reply. The reply is usually pretty meh. It gives the movant a chance to rebut the arguments raised by the opponent in their response and to reiterate the reasons for the motion in the first place. But Smith’s reply brief was fire – and it contained a slew of new examples of Trump’s threatening extrajudicial statements since Smith filed his original motion:
- Truth Social posts by Trump going after the judge, individual prosecutors, and witnesses, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley;
- That Meet the Press interview in which Trump targeted one witness (Bill Barr) and discussed the potential testimony of another witness (Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger);
Smith seized on the opportunity of the reply to put all of these new examples in front of Chutkan as she considers whether to impose some kind of modified gag order on Trump and his attorneys.
In a remarkable argument at one point in the reply, Smith shows a sophistication about Trump, misinformation, and the right-wing feedback loop that I wish more political reporters had.
Zeroing in on the recent Trump campaign stop at a gun store in South Carolina, and the controversy over whether Trump bought a Glock in violation of the law and his terms of release, and the subsequent walk-back by a Trump spokesperson, Smith said, “The defendant should not be permitted to obtain the benefits of his incendiary public statements and then avoid accountability by having others—whose messages he knows will receive markedly less attention than his own—feign retraction.”
Then in a footnote, Smith uncoiled this line for the ages: “The defendant either purchased a gun in violation of the law and his conditions of release, or seeks to benefit from his supporters’ mistaken belief that he did so.”
Chutkan has set a hearing on this matter for Oct. 16. I was slightly surprised she set the hearing so far out. But it makes me think by the time we get there, she will have tentatively sketched out an order tailored to the circumstances of this case, and I would expect we would get a ruling fairly quickly.
Trump’s Crazy Ass California Speech
Coming one day after President Biden’s powerful speech on democracy and the threat the former president poses, it was hard not to see Donald Trump’s speech Friday in California as both a response to and proof of Biden’s point:
Trump: "Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store. Shot!" pic.twitter.com/mJQJ9ZF41x— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 29, 2023
That was probably the most egregious moment in the speech, but it was sheer madness throughout, like King George III level madness. Just scroll through Aaron Rupar’s running clips here to get a better sense of what 2024 and beyond could hold.
‘Wannabe Dictator’ Alert
Why Did Trump Pick THAT Gun Store?
Lucian K. Truscott IV: The mainstream media completely missed the story when reporting on Trump’s visit to the South Carolina gun store
TNR: The Sick, Racist Message Behind Why Trump Chose That Particular Gun Store
First Trump Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty
Scott Hall, a defendant in the Georgia RICO case involved in the Coffee County election, pleaded guilty Friday in an unscheduled hearing in which he was sentenced to probation and fined $5,000.
Hall is reportedly the brother-in-law of David Bossie, a deputy campaign manager for Trump 2016 and the man behind the Citizens United campaign finance case.
As part of the plea agreement, Hall promised to cooperate with DA Fani Willis’ investigation. The other defendants with the most to worry about from Hall appear to be Sidney Powell, who was allegedly deeply involved in the Coffee County fiasco, and Jeff Clark, with whom Hall had a 63-minute phone call on Jan. 2, 2021, according to the indictment.
Georgia RICO Miscellany
- Trump DOJ official Jeff Clark loses his bid to remove his case to federal court.
- The same federal judge who rejected Clark’s removal bid also shot down the removal requests from three fake electors in the case.
- A judge denied Kenneth Chesebro’s motions to dismiss his case and to suppress evidence at trial.
- DA Fani Willis plans to offer plea deals in the coming days to Chesebro and Powell, her office told the state court judge overseeing their case.
- Jury selection in the speedy trial of Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell is set to start Oct. 20.
Michigan: New Disqualification Clause Case Against Trump
One the groups dotting the country with Disqualification Clause challenges to Trump’s 2024 candidacy has filed a similar lawsuit in Michigan, the biggest swing-state target to date to their legal campaign.
Trump Goes On Trial Today In New York
New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil trial against Trump, his adult sons, and his business empire starts in New York. This is a bench trial so no jury selection. The judge already granted partial summary judgment in favor of the state, so the range of issues to be tried has narrowed considerably. The biggest issue to determine at trial is damages. James is seeking $250 million.
James and Trump are both expected to attend opening statements today in person.
Supreme Court Begins October Term
The Supreme Court reconvenes today to begin its October term with the conservative supermajority poised to steer the law farther to the right.
IRS Contractor Charged In Leak Of Trump’s Tax Return Leak
Charles Littlejohn, 38, of Washington, D.C., was charged with allegedly leaking a trove of private tax information to news outlets:
- Littlejohn was charged via a “criminal information” instead of an indictment, which often signals that a plea deal is in the works.
- The charging document doesn’t identify whose tax information was leaked, but Politico confirmed that it included Donald Trump’s tax returns.
- While it doesn’t identify which news outlets were the beneficiaries of the leak, the charging document matches the known leaks to ProPublica and the NYT.
Welp, we went into the weekend facing the prospect of potentially long government shutdown, with no obvious resolution in sight. But by Saturday afternoon, Speaker Kevin McCarthy said fuck it and rolled over his right-wing flank with Democratic support to pass a 45-day continuing resolution to fund the government while negotiations on a long-term budget deal proceed.
Could we be here again in mid-November. Most certainly! But I suspect the way things broke loose here will be enough to change the underlying power dynamic and arrive at a long-term deal.
The Price McCarthy Will Pay
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is the leading the right-wing charge to remove McCarthy as speaker as soon as this week. As you watch that play out, bear in mind:
- Gaetz is even less popular among Republicans than McCarthy.
- If not McCarthy, then whom?
- Gaetz et al. have no plan for what comes next, and other members know it.
What’s your favorite popcorn?
TPM’s Josh Kovensky: “Inside The Menendez Indictment: An American Roller Skater Maimed In Egypt And $300M“
Laphonza Butler Appointed To Feinstein’s Seat
Keep An Eye On This Idaho Abortion Case
The Justice Department is now asking the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider on an expedited basis last week’s ruling by a three-judge panel of Trump appointees to allow Idaho’s abortion ban to go into effect. DOJ argues that the relatively rare request for an en banc review of the panel’s decision is necessitated by, among other things:
- The Idaho legislature waited 11 months before seeking a stay of the injunction that had been blocking enforcement of the law for a year.
- The district judge had found in favor of the government on every factor for granting a preliminary injunction.
- The law had never taken effect because the government had moved to block it before its effective date.
You can read the powerfully argued request for en banc review here.
WARNING: Watching This Will Make You Dumber
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