The Walls Are Closing In On Donald J. Trump

INSIDE: Mark Meadows ... Joe The Plumber ... Matt Schlapp
PICKENS, SOUTH CAROLINA - JULY 1: Former President Donald Trump speaks to crowd during a campaign event on July 1, 2023 in Pickens, South Carolina. The former president faces a growing list of primary challengers in ... PICKENS, SOUTH CAROLINA - JULY 1: Former President Donald Trump speaks to crowd during a campaign event on July 1, 2023 in Pickens, South Carolina. The former president faces a growing list of primary challengers in the Republican Party. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

The Long Road Ahead

Monday was a taste of what’s to come in the weeks and months ahead, as multiple prosecutions of Donald J. Trump come to a head.

Dueling hearings in DC and Atlanta Monday morning. Mark Meadows testifying in Atlanta at the same time Peter Navarro was on the stand in his own case in DC. Rulings, decisions, and scheduling matters from multiple judges colliding on a crowded calendar. Legal journalists and court watchers doing successive deep dives into various criminal procedure rabbit holes.

It’s a lot. But it shouldn’t cause you any handwringing. Don’t despair. While these aren’t normal times, and some of the cases have historic implications, you can take some satisfaction in knowing that we’re still in the early innings. Little that is happening now is going to dictate the ultimate outcomes in these cases.

A lot of the coverage is going to focus on what’s not normal about these prosecutions. But there’s more normal here than not. The criminal justice system, as flawed as it is, is still regularized, procedurally predictable, and operates at scale. It can handle this.

We Have A Trump Trial Date!

March 4, 2024. A full two years sooner than Trump asked for. A reasonable starting point. It may not stick. Lots can happen between now and March.

But getting a big delay to the start of trial was, as TPM’s Emine Yücel reported from the DC federal courthouse, a key element of Trump’s defense strategy. So this was a setback for him, as evidenced by the histrionics of Trump lawyer John Lauro in court.

How’s Trump Taking It?

Well …

Jan. 6 Miscellany

  • Florida lawyer files legal challenge to disqualify Trump from 2024 presidential race.
  • Bloomberg: Trump Sees Immunity Fight as Path to Delay 2020 Criminal Trial
  • TPM’s Nicole Lafond: Like Vow To Appeal Trial Date, Trump Often Makes Promises Online That Won’t Hold Up In Court

Mark Meadows Rolls The Dice

High risk/high reward strategy for Mark Meadows as he took the stand on his own behalf to try to get the Georgia racketeering prosecution moved from state to federal court.

TPM’s Josh Kovensky talked to legal experts on Meadows’ surprise move.

The federal judge who must decide the issue promised to move as quickly as possible but indicated that it’s a complicated legal question with little precedent for guidance. In a sign that he might not rule immediately, the judge warned Meadows that he would have to attend his arraignment if no decision is issued by then. Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Georgia Racketeering Miscellany

  • The arraignments of the 19 co-defendants, including Trump, in the Georgia racketeering case have been set for Sept. 6.
  • Now that indictments have been handed down in the Georgia racketeering case, a state judge has set a Sept. 6 deadline to file objections to the unsealing of special grand jury’s report on its investigation, with a target date of Sept. 8 to unseal it and make it public in its entirety.

Proud Boys Sentencing Gets Underway

Beginning today and over the next couple of days, the Proud Boys convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack will be sentenced in federal court in DC.

Significant in its own right, but also remember that prosecutors rightly consider the Proud Boys more culpable than the Oath Keepers were, and are accordingly seeking stiffer sentences, up to the 33 years.

And that in turn could arguably shape the sentence recommendation and ultimately the sentence for the big fella, Trump himself, if ultimately convicted for his role in trying to seize power unlawfully.

Longest Jan. 6 Sentence To Date: Stewart Rhodes

Here’s what an 18-year federal prison sentence looks like in practice:

Nice Try?

Peter Navarro last-ditch effort to avoid a trial on contempt of Congress charges for defying the Jan. 6 committee did not go well.

RIP Joe The Plumber

ELYRIA, OH – OCTOBER 30: Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher address a campaign rally at Lorain County Community College October 30, 2008 in Elyria, Ohio. With less than a week before the U.S. presidential election, McCain launched a two-day bus tour of the swing state of Ohio, where some polls show his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) leading by nine points. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Condolences to the friends and family of the man himself, Samuel Wurzelbacher.

As for “Joe the Plumber” – the conservative-creation, the media-fabrication, the stand-in for a make-believe, working-class world that political reporters deify, the caricature of the small business owner – I’d like to be able say good riddance to that, but of course that archetype is far from gone.

Looking back on the 2008 election, it seems both quaint and a ominous portending of the collapse of the Republican Party into a fash-forward, radical rightist party. And of course many political reporters still pose as representing an imagined non-ideological working-class world rooted in basic common sense.

More Trouble For Matt Schlapp

The vice chairman of the board of the American Conservative Union, which sponsors the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, resigned Friday and called for an independent investigation into additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman Matt Schlapp.


In ascending order of amusing:

  1. House GOP impeaching Biden despite no wrongdoing or even evidence of wrongdoing.
  2. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wanting to avoid a vote on starting the impeachment process to protect his more vulnerable members.
  3. Anyone pretending that the entire House GOP won’t be on the hook for starting an impeachment process if they don’t vote on it.

WI Supreme Court Never Ceases To Amaze

  • AP: Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice accuses liberal majority of staging ‘coup’
  • WaPo: Wisconsin Supreme Court flips liberal, creating a ‘seismic shift’

2020 Election Still Not Over For WI GOP

Wisconsin Republicans are aiming to remove Meagan Wolfe, the nonpartisan administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. They kick things off today by hauling her before a state Senate committee.

GOP Silences ‘Tennessee Three’ Dem

In a special session called in reaction to the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, GOP lawmakers Monday temporarily barred state Rep. Justin Jones from speaking on the House floor.

Pope Gets Spicy

AP: “Pope Francis has blasted the ‘backwardness’ of some conservatives in the U.S. Catholic Church, saying they have replaced faith with ideology and that a correct understanding of Catholic doctrine allows for change over time.”

2024 Ephemera

  • NYT: How Trump’s Election Lies Left the Michigan G.O.P. Broken and Battered
  • DeSantis heckled at Jacksonville shooting vigil.

Truer Words Never Spoken

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