A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
Will Judge Chutkan Take Notice?
Nothing happened inside the courtroom on the first day of the New York state civil fraud trial of Donald Trump that was as important as the attacks he launched in the courthouse hallways on the judge and the legal system:
Trump’s latest attack comes as Special Counsel Jack Smith is pushing U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to issue a limited gag order against Trump in his Jan. 6 case. Add this to the long list of recent examples.
Why won’t the New York state judge doing anything about it? He might. But, remember, this is a judge-tried case. There’s no jury pool for Trump to taint, and no jury for him to tamper with. So there’s not a direct, immediate threat to the integrity of the proceedings.
No, No, No
When you try to apply the tired old campaign and election tropes to cover rising authoritarianism, attacks on the legitimacy of the courts and other democratic institutions, and the use of mass media to stoke anger and resentment in service of your own business, legal and political ends, you get badly framed stories like these:
- AP: Trump turns his fraud trial into a campaign stop as he seeks to capitalize on his legal woes
- Politico: As Trump goes on trial for business fraud, he treats courthouse like campaign stop
It’s only been eight years since Trump emerged as a national political figure.
Trump Trial, Day 1
- NYT: Key Takeaways From the First Day of Trump’s Civil Fraud Trial
- The Messenger: Apparently Trump goofed and failed to ask for a jury trial, which is why he is stuck with a judge-tried case in front a judge who has repeatedly ruled against him in this case.
Jack Smith To Donald Trump: You’re Fooling No One
Special Counsel Jack Smith keeps on calling out Donald Trump and his delay tactics for what they are. Yesterday, Smith landed a one–two punch on Trump’s elaborate effort to push back his April 2024 trial date in the Jan. 6 case in DC.
John Kelly Tests Whether Late Really Is Better Than Never
The former Trump chief of staff and cabinet secretary finally goes on the record with some of his worst Trump stories.
Clarence Thomas Recuses In Jan. 6 Case
A very intriguing recusal by Justice Clarence Thomas in a case brought by former Trump attorney John Eastman, who unsuccessfully sought to keep his emails from the Jan. 6 committee.
You’ll recall that a federal judge in California ultimately ruled that attorney-client privilege didn’t apply because Eastman and Trump used their relationship to engage in criminal activity. The Supreme Court declined to take up the case, meaning the lower court ruling stands as is.
It’s not clear why Thomas recused, but Eastman, a former Thomas clerk, was corresponding with Thomas’ wife Ginni in the post-election period in 2020.
Important Read On The ‘Polarization’ Narrative
I’ve been waiting for this dismantling of “polarization” for a long time. Thomas Zimmer really brings it in the second installment of his manifesto on the subject.
Gaetz Pulls Pin And Rolls Grenade Into Middle Of House GOP
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed his motion to vacate last night, the first step in his attempted ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker of the House. I don’t have any special insights or predictions here. I’m going to sit back and watch. In the words of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA): “Not my monkey; not my circus.”
The comedic value is high:
The flailing is real, on both sides, meaning things are very fluid. A vote on the motion could come at any time over the next 48 hours.
A sampling of the coverage:
- Aaron Blake: Democrats can’t really save Kevin McCarthy
- Punchbowl: Is it too late for McCarthy?
- WSJ: What Is a Motion to Vacate, and How Could McCarthy Defeat It?
Congressman Carjacked In DC
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was carjacked in DC’s Navy Yard neighborhood Monday night. He was unhurt, and his car was later recovered.
Hunter Biden To Enter Not Guilty Plea Today
The president’s son is scheduled to enter a not guilty plea in person in Delaware federal court today on gun charges.
Meanwhile, DC U.S. Attorney Matt Graves is scheduled to sit today for a voluntary interview with the GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee, which is looking for more ways to make political hay.
Elon Musk Sued For Defamation
The lawyer handling the lawsuit is Mark Bankston, the Texas attorney who won a $45 million judgment against Alex Jones on behalf of two Sandy Hook parents.
Riding Shotgun With SBF
Michael Lewis timed today’s release of his new book on crypto-king Sam Bankman-Fried with the start of SBF’s trial. Lewis sat down with 60 Minutes and talked about the countless hours he spent “riding shotgun” with SBF as his fame and then his life exploded:
How Will You Fare?
A link to the full report, where you can search by county or census tract.
A Coda To Yesterday’s Nobel Prize In Medicine
I just want to make sure that you saw that the Nobel Prize in physiology was shared by Katalin Karikó. It was Karikó who was ignored, belittled, denied tenure, and ultimately left Penn’s medical school despite the groundbreaking mRNA research that ultimately led years later to the COVID vaccines. From the Glamour profile of her in 2021:
That morning at the lab, Karikó’s old boss had come to see her off. She did not tell him what a terrible mistake he was making in letting her leave. She didn’t gloat about her future at BioNTech, a pharmaceuticals firm that millions now associate with lifesaving vaccines but was then a relative upstart in the field. Instead the woman who had bounced from department to department, with no tenure prospects and never earning over $60,000 a year, said with total confidence: “In the future, this lab will be a museum. Don’t touch it.”
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