So I gather not much happened while I was away. A big thank you to Cassandra for holding down the fort while I enjoyed some sun and sand in Brigantine, New Jersey with my famiy. But I still read the news on the beach and flagged news item that interested me over the past week. Today, we are going to plow through all the news related to Trump’s indictment last week related to the January 6th insurrection and his attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.
Former President Donald Trump has been informed he has been indicted by a federal grand jury regarding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probe into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, ABC News reports.
There are four criminal charges against Trump in the 45-page indictment.
The New York Times annotates the new federal indictment against Donald Trump.
The indictment says Trump sought “to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”
The document also tells narratives of what Trump allegedly did in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to undermine elections there along with his attempt to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to illegally overturn the election.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Chutkan, an Obama appointee, is the only federal judge in Washington, D.C. who has sentenced Jan. 6 defendants to sentences longer than the government had requested.
Never before in nearly 250 years of history has a losing presidential candidate tried to overturn an election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power to his legitimate successor. The justice system is trying to hold him accountable.
Here are my early takeaways:
The decision to start with an indictment of the former president alone — United States vs. Trump — underscores special counsel Jack Smith’s resolve to seek a relatively speedy trial.
- Trump’s chances of delaying the trial are significantly reduced compared to the classified documents case because of the nature of top secret information and a possibly sympathetic judge, Aileen Cannon.
- By not charging Trump with seditious conspiracy in this indictment, the government chose crimes that will be simpler to prove and possibly less vulnerable to appeal.
- The information that one of the co-conspirators argued that the military would be called up to put down protests — ironically under the guise of the Insurrection Act — shows how dangerous this plot had become.
- Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is not characterized as a co-conspirator in the indictment, which strongly suggests he’s cooperating as a government witness.
- There’s a witness on the record from inside the Oval Office on the afternoon of January 6 who quotes Trump justifying the violence at the U.S. Capitol.
The 45-page indictment itself is extraordinary. It clearly lays out a series of three brazen conspiracies Trump pursued in attempting to steal the election. It’s definitely worth reading in full. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out against the backdrop of Trump trying to become president again.
The stakes are enormous.
Washington Post: “Historians and legal scholars say the new indictment, brought by federal special prosecutor Jack Smith, is fundamentally more consequential than the earlier ones, which related to hush money paid to an adult-film actress and the mishandling of classified documents.”
“While those are serious allegations, Tuesday’s indictment accuses a former president of the United States with attempting to subvert the democracy upon which the nation rests. And with Trump again running for the White House, the charges he faces pose an extraordinary test to the rule of law, experts say.”
Susan Glasser: “They will teach this case in the history books: a president of the United States charged with conspiring against democracy itself.”
“In accusing former President Donald Trump of conspiring to subvert American democracy, the special counsel, Jack Smith, charged the same story three different ways,” the New York Times reports.
“The charges are novel applications of criminal laws to unprecedented circumstances, heightening legal risks, but Mr. Smith’s tactic gives him multiple paths in obtaining and upholding a guilty verdict.”
Said law professor Julie O’Sullivan: “Especially in a case like this, you want to have multiple charges that are applicable or provable with the same evidence, so that if on appeal you lose one, you still have the conviction.”
“That structure in the indictment is only one of several strategic choices by Mr. Smith — including what facts and potential charges he chose to include or omit — that may foreshadow and shape how an eventual trial of Mr. Trump will play out.”
Donald Trump attacked Special Counsel Jack Smith, saying he’s “a deranged human being.” He added: “You take a look at that face, you say that guy is a sick man.”
“If you go after me, I’m coming after you!”— Donald Trump, on Truth Social.
Federal prosecutors proposed a protective order referencing Donald Trump’s Truth Social post from tonight, saying it clearly references other parties and participants in the case against him, Politico reports.
Trump swore in court yesterday he would not attempt to influence or intimidate witnesses, retaliate against anyone, or in any other way attempt to obstruct the administration of justice.
Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya addressed former President Donald Trump as “Mr. Trump” yesterday in court — which “irked him particularly,” CNN reports. He prefers “Mr. President.”
Donald Trump proposed a change of venue in the special counsel’s January 6 case from Washington, DC to “the politically unbiased nearby” West Virginia.
“The federal judge assigned to the election fraud case against former President Donald Trump has stood out as one of the toughest punishers of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attack fueled by Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election. She has also ruled against him before,” the AP reports.
“Lawyers who’ve defended clients before Chutkan, the judge assigned to Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 election conspiracy case, have some advice for the former president and his attorneys: buckle up,” Rolling Stone reports.
Said one attorney: “It’s probably the worst draw for Trump. She’s the worst judge he could’ve gotten handed. She’s pleasant, she’s nice, and she’s fair, but she’s a tough judge with these January 6 cases.”
“Donald Trump’s team had debated earlier this week how they wanted to approach his arraignment, and made the decision to appear at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. in-person — foregoing the option to appear via Zoom — in an attempt to drum up more media attention regarding the latest charges,” CNN reports. “The strategy is to play into their broader narrative that special counsel Jack Smith is interfering with the 2024 presidential election by taking him off the campaign trail.”
Politico: “Aides shot video footage of the arrival from the plane, while his operation blasted screen grabs of the cable news networks, all of them hyper focused on Trump’s arrival and motorcade ride through downtown D.C.”
“The portrayal they sought to convey was akin to that of a gladiator being summoned before the angry hordes in the coliseum.”
“A federal judge on Saturday denied a request from former President Donald Trump’s legal team for a deadline extension over the handling of evidence in the 2020 election subversion case,” CNN reports. “Trump’s lawyers will have to respond by Monday afternoon to the Justice Department’s proposal for a protective order.”
“The decision from US District Judge Tanya Chutkan caps a flurry of activity in the case after special counsel Jack Smith’s team on Friday asked Chutkan to quickly set limits on what Trump’s team can do with the evidence that will be shared with them. Their request pointed to a post by Trump on Truth Social from earlier in the day to argue that the former president has a habit of speaking publicly about the details of the various legal proceedings he’s facing.”
Washington Post: “Pence took ‘contemporaneous notes’ about Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 45th president’s electoral defeat in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, according to the indictment…”
“The notes are explicitly cited twice in the document.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence issued a statement on today’s indictment of Donald Trump: “Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States… Our country is more important than one man. Our constitution is more important than any one man’s career. On January 6th, Former President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. I chose the Constitution and I always will.”
Mike Pence told Fox News that Donald Trump personally asked him to “literally reject votes” on January 6. Said Pence: “Let’s be clear on this point. It wasn’t that they asked for a pause. The president specifically asked me and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers asked me to literally reject votes which would have resulted in the issue of being turned over to the house of representatives.” He added: “They asked me to reject votes, return votes, essentially to overturn the election.”
“Mike Pence on Sunday did not rule out being a prosecution witness if his ex-boss Donald Trump goes to trial on charges of orchestrating a criminal conspiracy to try to reverse his defeat in the 2020 presidential election,” Reuters reports.
Said Pence: “People can be confident we’ll obey the law, we’ll respond to the call of law, if it comes, and we’ll just tell the truth.”
CNN: Trump calls Pence ‘delusional’ in sharpest attack yet on his former vice president.
“Mike Pence refuted the notion that former President Donald Trump only asked him to delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to allow for audits of state election results, disputing the characterization of their interactions made by some members of Trump’s legal team,” CBS News reports.
Said Pence: “That’s not what happened.”
He added: “From sometime in the middle of December, the president began to be told that I had some authority to reject or return votes back to the states. I had no such authority.”
Donald Trump took to Truth Social to taunt Mike Pence — a likely witness against him — just hours after prosecutors warned a judge his posts could have a “harmful chilling effect” on witnesses in the criminal case against him.
Said Trump: “WOW, it’s finally happened! Liddle’ Mike Pence, a man who was about to be ousted as Governor Indiana until I came along and made him V.P., has gone to the Dark Side.”
He added: “I never told a newly emboldened (not based on his 2% poll numbers!) Pence to put me above the Constitution, or that Mike was ‘too honest.’ He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy.”
More Trump on Truth Social: “I feel badly for Mike Pence, who is attracting no crowds, enthusiasm, or loyalty from people who, as a member of the Trump Administration, should be loving him.”
Then he added: “He didn’t fight against Election Fraud, which we will now be easily able to prove based on the most recent Fake Indictment & information which will have to be made available to us, finally – a really BIG deal.”
Rudy Giuliani lobbed personal attacks at Mike Pence after the former vice president criticized Donald Trump’s “gaggle of crackpot lawyers” for feeding into his 2020 election delusions, the Daily Beast reports.
Said Giuliani: “I don’t think he’s even been in a courtroom, and he went to a law school nobody even knows.”
He added: “I thought before that he was a really good guy, but too weak to be president. I always worried about him following Trump, because I would see him with his wife having something around his neck every night.”
Special Counsel Jack’s Smith indictment names six co-conspirators. CNN reports the group includes Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro. The identity of the sixth remains unclear, although the indictment says they are “a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”
However, morally and politically, the Republican Party is a co-conspirator as well. After three indictments, two impeachments and one insurrection, Trump’s political standing within his party is stronger than it was when he first ran for president 8 years ago. Trump is currently leading the Republican primary by a wide margin.
It’s telling that the GOP presidential candidates with the most support so far — Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy — all came to Trump’s defense last night. Nikki Haley was silent, though she’s previously said she would pardon Trump if elected. Those who criticized Trump — Chris Christie, Mike Pence, Asa Hutchinson and Will Hurd — are polling at less than eight percent combined. We’ve expected this indictment for months and expectations tend to dull the importance of what just happened. Nothing is surprising anymore when it comes to Trump.
But this case is the most important in the history of the country to safeguard the rule of law and American democracy. The Republican party is lined up on the other side.
Axios: “None of the six [coconspirators] has been indicted by special counsel Jack Smith, but they are all on notice that they face potential criminal liability.”
“By not identifying or charging them, Smith left open the possibility that they could decide to testify against Trump in exchange for lenient treatment for any legal jeopardy they could face. Trump has long expressed his disdain for ‘flippers’; now he has reason to fear them.”
Daily Beast: “Lastly, the absence of charges—made visible by the large amount of white space left in the space under Trump’s name as a defendant—also reminds the co-conspirators that they could be charged and likely takes them off the table as potential defense witnesses due to their probable concern that testifying would waive their 5th Amendment rights.”
“The federal government’s criminal indictment of Donald Trump lists six people who allegedly conspired with him to try to steal the 2020 election, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a former Justice Department official and a political consultant,” USA Today reports.
“Any of the six could deepen Trump’s already dire legal jeopardy should they decide to cooperate with special counsel Jack Smith to avoid facing criminal charges of their own.”
Peter Baker: “In the long annals of the republic, the White House has seen its share of perfidy and scandal, presidents who cheated on their wives and cheated the taxpayers, who abused their power and abused the public trust.”
“But not since the framers emerged from Independence Hall on that clear, cool day in Philadelphia 236 years ago has any president who was voted out of office been accused of plotting to hold onto power in an elaborate scheme of deception and intimidation that would lead to violence in the halls of Congress.”
“What makes the indictment against Donald Trump on Tuesday so breathtaking is not that it is the first time a president has been charged with a crime or even the second. Mr. Trump already holds those records. But as serious as hush money and classified documents may be, this third indictment in four months gets to the heart of the matter, the issue that will define the future of American democracy.”
Rick Hasen: “It is hard to overstate the stakes riding on this indictment and prosecution. New polling from the New York Times shows that Trump not only has a commanding lead among those Republicans seeking the party’s presidential nomination in 2024; he remains very competitive in a race against Joe Biden.”
“After nearly a decade of Trump convincing many in the public that all charges against him are politically motivated, he’s virtually inoculated himself against political repercussions for deadly serious criminal counts. He’s miraculously seen a boost in support and fundraising after each indictment (though recent signs are that the indictments are beginning to take a small toll). One should not underestimate the chances that Donald Trump could be elected President in 2024 against Joe Biden—especially if Biden suffers any kind of health setback in the period up to the election—even if Trump is put on trial and convicted of crimes.”
“A trial is the best chance to educate the American public, as the January 6 House committee hearings did to some extent, about the actions Trump allegedly took to undermine American democracy and the rule of law. Constant publicity from the trial would give the American people in the middle of the election season a close look at the actions Trump took for his own personal benefit while putting lives and the country at risk.”
“It, of course, also serves the goals of justice and of deterring Trump, or any future likeminded would-be authoritarian, from attempting any similar attack on American democracy ever again.”
Ruth Marcus: “It is terrible, tragic even, that it has come to this. If the idea of bringing criminal charges against a former president and current presidential candidate sits uneasily with you, I agree. It should, and you do not have to be a Trump partisan to conclude that Smith might have erred here.”
“That is not my view, but I do believe that this is not a step to be taken lightly. The risks of charging Trump include inflaming even more distrust of what his allies will claim is a partisan ‘weaponized’ Justice Department; injecting more turmoil into an already inflamed and divided electorate; and, most frightening, unleashing a punitive cycle of prosecuting political opponents.”
Tom Nichols: “Long before now… Americans should have reached the conclusion, with or without a trial, that Trump is a menace to the United States and poisonous to our society… The GOP base, controlled by Trump’s cult of personality, will likely never admit its mistake: Trump’s record of ‘lawlessness and depravity’ means nothing to Republicans. But other Republicans now, more than ever, face a moment of truth. They must decide if they are partisans or patriots. They can no longer claim to be both.”
“The rest of us, as a nation but also as individuals, can no longer indulge the pretense that Trump is just another Republican candidate, that supporting Donald Trump is just another political choice, and that agreeing with Trump’s attacks on our democracy is just a difference of opinion.”
Two conservative media voices — neither of which is predictably pro-Donald Trump — voiced skepticism about yesterday’s indictment of Donald Trump.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page worries that Special Counsel Jack Smith’s theory of the case “potentially criminalizes many kinds of actions and statements by a President that a prosecutor deems to be false.”
“It makes any future election challenges, however valid, legally vulnerable to a partisan prosecutor. And it might have criminalized the actions by Al Gore and George W. Bush to contest the Florida election result in 2000.”
National Review says Smith “is endeavoring to criminalize protected political speech and flimsy legal theories — when the Supreme Court has repeatedly admonished prosecutors to refrain from creative theories to stretch penal laws to reach misconduct that Congress has not made illegal.”
A new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds “65% of U.S. adults think the charges are serious, including 51% who said they are very serious and 14% who said they are somewhat serious.”
“Only 24% said they are not serious, including 17% who said they are not serious at all.”
“Just over half — 52% — think Trump should have been charged with a crime in this case, while 32% said he should not have been. And a plurality of Americans (49%) said Trump should suspend his presidential campaign, while 36% said he shouldn’t.”
Washington Post: “If convicted in any of the three criminal cases he is now facing, Donald Trump may be able to influence whether he goes to prison and what his stay there looks like under a law that allows former U.S. presidents to keep Secret Service protection for life.”
“Presidents since 1965 have been afforded lifetime protection. Since then, only Richard M. Nixon has waived it, as a cost-saving move for taxpayers 11 years after his resignation.”
“But unless he follows Nixon’s example, Trump could force politically and logistically complex questions over whether officials should detail agents to protect a former American president behind bars, leave it to prison authorities to keep him safe, or secure him under some type of home confinement.”
Axios: “If Trump is likely to lose in court in even one of his three — probably soon to be four — criminal prosecutions, he may turn to unprecedented, extraordinary measures for a way out.”
“Trump appears to be working on three escape hatches to keep himself out of prison.”
- Delay trials until after the 2024 election, hoping he’ll be president again and able to pardon himself.
- Count on friendly judges to steer things in his favor.
- Frame every defeat as political vendetta — and trust the Supreme Court will overturn any guilty verdicts.
Playbook: “Trump’s main defenses against conviction don’t require a defense attorney: Stall the start of any trial, win the 2024 presidential election, and end the case with either a pliable new AG or a self-pardon.”
“But short of that rather remarkable strategy, two lines of defense have already emerged. First, Trump will argue that anything he said about fraud is protected speech under the First Amendment. The argument has already been panned by legal pundits who point out that speech — e.g. ‘Stick ‘em up and give me all your money!’— is routinely used as evidence to establish the predicate of a crime.”
“Trump may be on more solid ground with his second defense: Smith can’t prove former Trump really knew there was no election fraud. While the indictment is brimming with details about how Trump was repeatedly told by the people who were in the best position to know that the election was fairly decided, Trump will likely argue that he genuinely believed there was fraud and therefore he didn’t act ‘corruptly.’”
Donald Trump’s legal team “says he’s been indicted for actions that are protected by the First Amendment — and that the First Amendment will ultimately exonerate him,” Axios reports.
“Many legal experts say that’s not true, and not really the point.”
“To put it simply, if you and I engaged in a criminal conspiracy, and we talked about it in public, no, we couldn’t be prosecuted for what we said. But that wouldn’t get us off the hook for the underlying crime. We could still be prosecuted for that.”
“Donald Trump’s attorneys are preparing a legal plan to shovel blame onto the lawyers who aided his attempt to overturn the 2020 election,” Rolling Stone reports.
“Trump is on the cusp of being indicted over Jan. 6 and its surrounding events, and if the case goes to trial, his current legal team is preparing an “advice of counsel” argument, attempting to pull blame away from the former president for any possible illegal activity. Plans for such a defense have been percolating since last year.”
“Several lawyers in Trump’s ever-shifting legal orbit spent time both this and last year quietly studying past high-profile cases involving this particular line of defense. The attorneys tried to game out how such an argument would fare in front of a judge or a jury.”
Phil Rotner: “And while some of the overt acts alleged against Trump might look less damning if Trump could show he truly believed he won the election, others would not. Even a sincere, deeply held belief that the election had been stolen would not, for instance, give Trump license to participate in a fake-electors scheme. As I wrote over a year ago, none of Trump’s standard defenses can excuse this piece of dirty work. Trump can’t claim he didn’t know about it, and he can’t claim that forging election certificates and then attempting to pawn them off as official documents is just fine as long as you believe you won an election.”
“Think of it this way. You may be absolutely convinced that a charge on your credit card isn’t yours, but you can’t hack into the bank’s server to remove it. You may know with all your heart that your neighbor took your Rolex, but you can’t break into his house in the middle of the night to retrieve it (just ask O.J. Simpson about that one). You may hold it as an article of near-religious faith that the government is tyrannical, but you can’t blow up the federal building.”
“Former President Trump’s legal team is teasing a risky defense to his historic third indictment: that Trump genuinely believed his own lies about election fraud — despite being told by dozens of his closest advisers, allies and agencies that they were baseless,” Axios reports.
“If they proceed to trial, Trump’s lawyers effectively could be asking a jury to believe that the former president was delusional — undermining special counsel Jack Smith’s core thesis that Trump ‘knowingly’ sought to defraud the country.”
“Politically, however, the ‘delusion defense’ would force Republicans into the uncomfortable position of defending a candidate who can’t be trusted to distinguish reality from conspiracy — and who now wants to be president again.”
Washington Post: Heart of the Trump Jan. 6 indictment: What’s in Trump’s head.
“Donald Trump’s team is creating a legal defense fund to help offset some of the enormous bills incurred as his legal troubles mount,” CNN reports.
New York Times: “It is unclear how broad a group of people the legal-defense fund will cover, but one person said it was not expected to cover Mr. Trump’s own legal bills. In recent months Mr. Trump’s political action committee has paid legal bills for him and several witnesses, spending over $40 million on lawyers in the first half of 2023.”
“When allies of former President Donald Trump launched his new legal defense fund, they created a group with few restrictions on how much it can raise, even fewer on how much it can spend, and the ability for deep-pocketed donors to remain anonymous,” the Daily Beast reports.
“In essence, Trump’s legal costs have gotten so high that he’s been forced to find a new way around campaign finance laws—a route that will allow him to draw massive donations from megadonors who could not otherwise write checks large enough to replenish his attorney costs.”
“The political action committee that former President Donald Trump is using to pay his legal bills faced such staggering costs this year that it requested a refund on a $60 million contribution it made to another group supporting the Republican front-runner,” the New York Times reports.
“The decision signals a potential money crisis for Mr. Trump, who has so far refused to pay his own voluminous bills directly and has also avoided creating a legal-defense fund for himself and people who have become entangled in the various investigations related to him.”
“It comes as Mr. Trump runs a campaign while under indictment in two jurisdictions and, soon, potentially a third, while also paying the legal fees of a number of witnesses who are close to him or who work for him.”
“Donald Trump’s political group spent more than $40 million on legal costs in the first half of 2023 to defend Trump, his advisers and others, according to people familiar with the matter, financing legal work that has drawn scrutiny from prosecutors about potential conflicts of interest between Trump and witnesses,” the Washington Post reports.
“Save America, the former president’s PAC, is expected to disclose about $40.2 million in legal spending in a filing expected Monday.”
“That total is more than any other expense the PAC has incurred during Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and, according to federal filings from earlier this month, more than Trump’s campaign raised in the second quarter of 2023.”
“Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik will meet with special counsel Jack Smith in the coming days to discuss efforts taken by former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to investigate potential election fraud in the wake of the 2020 election,” CNN reports.
Donald Trump asked on Truth Social for the Supreme Court to intervene in his criminal cases.
Said Trump: “My political opponent has hit me with a barrage of weak lawsuits, including D.A., A.G., and others, which require massive amounts of my time & money to adjudicate. Resources that would have gone into Ads and Rallies, will now have to be spent fighting these Radical Left Thugs in numerous courts throughout the Country. I am leading in all Polls, including against Crooked Joe, but this is not a level playing field.”
He added: “It is Election Interference, & the Supreme Court must intercede.”
“At least seven currently serving advisers to former president Donald Trump took actions that are mentioned prominently in one of his three criminal indictments or have been interviewed by prosecutors, potentially setting up uncomfortable situations in which they are working for his 2024 presidential bid while also serving as witnesses at one of his upcoming trials,” the Washington Post reports.
“They include his top presidential campaign adviser, as well as a senior communications aide and several other campaign staffers. Walt Nauta, his closest personal aide who is frequently at his side on the campaign trail, is now a co-defendant in the case in which Trump is accused of mishandling classified documents.”
New York Times: “The legal team that Mr. Trump has assembled to represent him in the twin prosecutions by the special counsel, Jack Smith, is marked by a tangled web of potential conflicts and overlapping interests — so much so that Mr. Smith’s office has started asking questions.”
“While it is not uncommon for lawyers in complex matters — like large mob cases or financial inquiries — to wear many hats or to play competing roles, the Gordian knot of intertwined imperatives in the Trump investigations is particularly intricate and insular.”
Michael Wolff: “Personally, I’m less sure of Mr. Trump’s legal fate. Prosecutors will soon run up against the epistemological challenges of explaining and convicting a man whose behavior defies and undermines the structures and logic of civic life.”
“There’s an asymmetric battle here, between the government’s precise and thorough prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s head-smacking gang of woeful lawyers. The absolute ludicrousness and disarray of the legal team defending Mr. Trump after his second impeachment ought to go down in trial history. Similarly, a few months ago, a friend of mine was having a discussion with Mr. Trump about his current legal situation. A philosophical Mr. Trump said that while he probably didn’t have the best legal team, he was certain he had the best looking, displaying pictures of the comely women with law degrees he had hired to help with his cases.”
“Here liberals see a crushing advantage: As ever, Mr. Trump seems unable to walk a straight line even in his own defense. But his unwillingness or, as likely, inability to play by the rules or even understand them creates a chaos often in his favor. Indeed, the prosecutors’ story of his grand scheming will most likely require them to present a figure of the former president — calculated, methodical, knowing and cunning — that none of his supporters or anyone who has ever met him or reasonable jurors and perhaps even the world at large would recognize.”
“Mark Meadows was the White House chief of staff when Donald Trump tried to overturn the 2020 election result, but he plays only a bit role in the document laying out the charges against the former president,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Meadows talked to Trump several times a day, worked at times to reverse the 2020 results as well as to rein in some efforts and, according to congressional testimony, was slow to engage on Jan. 6, 2021, when some Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the election’s certification. The House Jan. 6 committee’s report said Meadows was likely part of a conspiracy with other Trump confidants to block President Biden’s win.”
“Tuesday’s indictment by a federal grand jury only mentions Meadows a handful of times, and his level of cooperation with prosecutors remains a mystery.”
“When the latest indictment of Donald Trump came down Tuesday night, the former president’s top lieutenants were quick to defend their boss and characterize the investigation as a witch hunt,” the Daily Beast reports.
“But less than 24 hours later, after the New York Times suggested there was a strong possibility that senior Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn could be co-conspirator No. 6, Trump advisers who had been castigating the indictment were suddenly delighting in Epshteyn’s predicament.”
Said one source: “He is so deeply, viscerally hated right now.”
Former Attorney General Bill Barr told CNN that he believes Donald Trump “knew well he lost the election.”
He added: “At first I wasn’t sure, but I have come to believe he knew well he had lost the election.”
Chris Christie revealed to Kara Swisher that he was questioned in one of the Trump investigations some weeks ago, but he wouldn’t disclose which one.
Said Christie: “They were trying to get a handle on what I knew about his knowledge of the reality of the election results.”
Daily Beast: “While it’s possible Special Counsel Jack Smith is basing his description of the phone call off Herrera Beutler’s public account, that would be a sharp departure from his normal tactics. Indeed, paragraph 115 appears to be one of the very few instances in the indictment where Smith doesn’t lay out his sourcing for a claim.”
“By choosing to speak as an omniscient narrator for that paragraph, federal prosecutors have left it entirely unclear how they know what was said on that phone call. And that’s fueling speculation about a number of possibilities: Is there a recording of the call? Did Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows—who is speculated to have been in the room with Trump at the time—provide an account to investigators? Did McCarthy?”
Politico: “Depending on whom you ask, Trump’s trial on charges that he sought to subvert the 2020 election could happen in 70 days. Or in three years. Those are the implicit opening bids from both prosecutors and defense lawyers as the weightiest and most complicated of the former president’s three criminal cases so far reaches the scheduling phase.”
The Economist: “The calendar may have figured prominently in the decision to limit the case to Mr Trump for now. Mr Smith emphasized his desire for ‘a speedy trial’—presumably one that might be held before the November 2024 election. A half-dozen extra defendants would almost certainly have put that goal out of reach.”
“Yet much could depend on the outcome of that vote. Even with charges limited to a single defendant and a quick schedule set by the judge, Tanya Chutkan, time will be on Mr Trump’s side if he wins the election. Sitting presidents are immune from criminal prosecution, meaning all Mr Trump’s pending trials and appeals—the two federal indictments, as well as state charges related to hush-money payments in New York (the Stormy Daniels case), and possible election-fraud charges in Georgia—would be placed on hold. Final resolution of his legal troubles could be delayed until 2029 or beyond. On the other hand, should Mr Trump lose again, the cases will proceed as normal.”
“Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and nearly three dozen other House Democrats are calling on top judiciary branch officials to allow the federal criminal trials of former President Donald Trump to be publicly broadcast, arguing that it’s in the nation’s best interests to do so,” Punchbowl News reports.
New York Times: “For months now, as prosecutors pursued criminal charges against him in multiple jurisdictions, Mr. Trump has intertwined his legal defenses with his electoral arguments. He has called on Republicans to rally behind him to send a message to prosecutors. He has made clear that if he recaptures the White House, he will use his powers to ensure his personal freedom by shutting down prosecutions still underway.”
“In effect, he is both running for president and trying to outrun the law enforcement officials seeking to convict him.”
“That dynamic has transformed the stakes of this election in ways that may not always be clear. Behind the debates over inflation, “wokeness” and the border, the 2024 election is at its core about the fundamental tenets of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power, the independence of the nation’s justice system, the meaning of political free speech and the principle that no one is above the law.”