A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
With the Mar-a-Lago indictments secured, it’s time to check back in on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of the higher-ups in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election.
A spate of new reporting over the last 72 hours suggests Smith’s Jan. 6 probe remains quite active even as his office handles the MAL case. Immunity deals are a big deal and suggest a willingness to sacrifice convictions of mid-level wrongdoers in favor of securing evidence against top-tier culprits:
- CNN: “Special counsel Jack Smith has compelled at least two Republican fake electors to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington in recent weeks by giving them limited immunity, part of a current push by federal prosecutors to swiftly nail down evidence in the sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”
- NYT: “Michael Roman, a top official in former President Donald J. Trump’s 2020 campaign, is in discussions with the office of the special counsel Jack Smith that could soon lead to Mr. Roman voluntarily answering questions about a plan to create slates of pro-Trump electors in key swing states that were won by Joseph R. Biden Jr., according to a person familiar with the matter.”
Both CNN and the NYT report that the pace of activities by the Jan. 6 grand jury has picked up in recent days, after a period of relative quiescence. CNN puts a finer point on it, noting that Smith’s office isn’t giving witnesses a chance to postpone their testimony:
Prosecutors have played hardball with some of the witnesses in recent weeks, refusing to grant extensions to grand jury subpoenas for testimony and demanding they comply before the end of this month, sources said. In the situations where prosecutors have given witnesses immunity, the special counsel’s office arrived at the courthouse in Washington ready to compel their testimony after the witnesses indicated they would decline to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment, the sources added.
A caveat that the dribs and drabs that emerge from counsel for defendants and witnesses aren’t necessarily a good reflection of where the case actually stands – and that while it may appear from some vantage points that the probe slowed then quickened, that may not be the same impression from every vantage point.
Jack Smith Tries To Fast-Track MAL Case
A round of motions filed late Friday by Special Counsel Jack Smith in the Mar-a-Lago case gives us a more reasonable picture of the timeline for a trial of former President Trump and suggests again that Smith and his team are keenly aware of the time pressures they’re under with the 2024 election looming.
Smith is asking for a Dec. 11 trial date, a more realistic timeframe than the August placeholder the judge penciled in originally. That will give the judge time to consider all the various pre-trial motions under the Classified Information Procedures Act, which Smith kicked off with a primer to the judge and a request for a CIPA hearing soon.
Trump will, of course, try to delay the trial. Think of this as a strong opening bid by Smith that will get negotiated down some. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon helped Smith with an aggressive initial placeholder, but it’s not clear yet how quickly she’ll decide to move things along.
Informed reaction from a former DOJ official who was a top attorney on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team:
The Evidence That Tipped The Scale In The MAL Case
What turned the tide was an audio tape and other evidence investigators confirmed around February from meetings Trump held almost two years earlier and a thousand miles from the former president’s Palm Beach, Fla., resort, according to people familiar with the matter.
That crucial evidence, along with notes from a Trump lawyer describing his response to the investigation, helped spur prosecutors to push forward with a criminal case, the people said—an unprecedented step that might have been avoided if Trump had cooperated even late last year, as some of his lawyers had urged him to do.
House GOP About To Go Crazy Over Merrick Garland
Former President Trump is using the House GOP majority as a spear in his multi-pronged attack on the rule of law to save his own skin – and Speaker Kevin McCarthy is happy to go along, even if that means trying to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland over his handling of the Hunter Biden prosecution.
Rudy Sanctioned By Judge
Rudy Giuliani was ordered to pay the attorney fees of two Georgia election workers suing him for defamation, after a judge found he failed to comply with his obligations to turn over evidence in the case.
US District Judge Beryl Howell entered an order on Friday directing Giuliani to cover what it cost the lawyers for Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss to pursue their successful motion to compel him to produce information.
Trump Coughs Up $5.5M In Carroll Defamation Case
So that he can appeal E. Jean Carrol’s $5 million defamation and sex abuse judgment against him, former President Trump has deposited $5.5 million with a New York federal court in lieu of an appeal bond.
Don’t Sleep On Smartmatic
Rolling Stone: Newsmax Staffers Hit With Subpoenas in Smartmatic’s 2020 Election Defamation Suit
Another Reason Trump Is Running For POTUS
NYT: As Legal Fees Mount, Trump Steers Donations Into PAC That Has Covered Them
The Dwindling Non-MAGA GOP Is Getting Desperate
Former federal Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig in the NYT:
If the indictment of Mr. Trump on Espionage Act charges — not to mention his now almost certain indictment for conspiring to obstruct Congress from certifying Mr. Biden as the president on Jan. 6 — fails to shake the Republican Party from its moribund political senses, then it is beyond saving itself. Nor ought it be saved.
Anything Happen In Russia Over The Weekend?
Amazing how much can come and go between the Friday and Monday iterations of the Morning Memo:
- David Remnick: Putin’s Weakness Unmasked
- Yaroslav Trofimov: “One widely shared conclusion in Russia and abroad … was that none of the key players in the power struggle—beginning when Prigozhin seized the southern city of Rostov Saturday—has been strengthened by the ordeal that brought the country to the edge of civil war.”
John Goodenough, 1922-2023
A reminiscence of John B. Goodenough by a former profiler of his:
Speaking Of Batteries …
The former president went on a misinformation-laden rant against electric vehicles and Biden while on a campaign trip to Michigan:
Driven by his ridiculous regulations, electric cars will kill more than half of U.S. auto jobs and decimate the suppliers that they decimated already — decimate the suppliers and it’s going to decimate your jobs and it’s going to decimate more than anybody else, the state of Michigan. … It’s is going to be decimation it’s going to be at a level that that people can’t even imagine.
Quite A Weekend
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