January 30, 2023

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Judge Blasts Trump And His Lead Lawyer

A new order by a federal judge in Florida came down Thursday evening holding former President Trump and his lawyer Alina Habba jointly and severally liable for nearly $1 million in court-imposed sanctions for their frivolous and baseless RICO lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and more than two dozen co-defendants over the 2016 election.

Let’s jump right into some of the most blistering language from U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks’ ruling:

  • From the opening sentence, the judge is loaded for bear:

This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.

  • The judge doesn’t let up:

Thirty-one individuals and entities were needlessly harmed in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative. A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm.

  • The judge pins the blame firmly on Trump, not just his lawyer:

Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions. … As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.

As an amusing aside:

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Supreme Court Leak Investigation Is A Bust

I wouldn’t want you to take the juxtaposition of the following two facts as solving the mystery. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want you to rule it out either. To wit:

  1. The Supreme Court’s own investigation was unable to determine who leaked the draft Dobbs decision to Politico last May.
  2. The investigation does not appear to have taken a look at the justices themselves.

Let me just add that the investigation didn’t conclusively determine there was even a leak. Seriously. It mostly ruled out a hack, but it couldn’t rule out, for example, that the draft was inadvertently left in a public space and was picked up by someone not authorized to have it.

One last curiosity about all this. It was weird reading Politico’s own write-up of the investigative report, the gist of which is: Supreme Court can’t determine who gave us the Dobbs draft! It was written by Politico senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein, who wrote the original story on the Dobbs draft. So I’m thinking “But Josh knows!” … except then I remembered one of the intriguing tidbits about the original Politico story. Gerstein wasn’t the only author. National security reporter Alexander Ward co-bylined the leak story. Ward is not on the latest story on the leak investigation. This was noted as a potential clue at the time of the leak:

Your Daily Dose Of George Santos

TPM: There’s a curious swirl of money from the post-Soviet world around Santos and his former employer, Harbor City.

NYT: How an Investor Lost $625,000 and His Faith in George Santos

ABC: Santos, who lauded Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, denies claims he performed as drag queen

Former Santos roommate speaks out:

Rupert Murdoch Deposed In Dominion Case

Rupert Murdoch enters Day 2 of his deposition in the $1.6 billion defamation case by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News.

Peter Navarro Loses Big Time

Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro is almost certain to face trial for contempt of Congress later this month after a federal judge rejected his last-ditch effort to throw out the case.

Navarro was charged in May for his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee.

Navarro has been rolling out many of the same defenses unsuccessfully raised by former Trump whisperer Steve Bannon, who was similarly charged and convicted for stiff-arming the Jan. 6 committee.

John Eastman Is Still Talking

Despite facing what appears to be real legal jeopardy, former Trump lawyer John Eastman remains defiant and extremely talkative, sitting down for a new interview with the New York Times.

3 Active Duty Marines Arrested On Jan. 6 Charges

All three Marines “work in jobs connected to the intelligence community,” Military.com reports.

Alec Baldwin’s Criminal Charges Are Hard To Figure

The publicly known evidence in the on-set shooting during the production of Rust is tough to square with involuntary manslaughter charges.

The prosecutors in Santa Fe haven’t yet filed charges but plan to by the end of the month. In the meantime, they’re talking publicly … a lot. But none of what they’ve said zeroes in on specific evidence that would help show how Baldwin was criminally negligent or reckless.

Stay tuned on this one. I fear it has many of the hallmarks of the celebrity criminal trial gone bad.

RIP

UNSPECIFIED – JANUARY 01: Photo of David Crosby (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The legendary David Crosby – inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame twice, as a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – has died at 81.

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