If We Were Trump, We'd Be Sh*tting Our Big Ugly Golf Pants Over Jack Smith's Investigation Right About Now
Donald Trump's last 24 hours seem pretty neat.
Donald Trump is in Ireland doing lazy ass shit probably, don't know, don't care, but he's been real unhappy with how things have been going with E. Jean Carroll's civil rape trial against him back in New York. So he got all cranky with reporters on his golf course over there yesterday and started blabbering for four solid minutes about how "I’m going to go back [to New York] and I’m going to confront this woman. This woman is a disgrace." You betcha. He said he's cutting his trip short. He doesn't want to. He has to.
Trump said he was the victim of “false accusations against a rich guy. Or in my case against a famous, rich and political person that’s leading the polls by 40 points.”
Okeydoke, false accusations against a rich guy, or in his case a famous rich political person that's leading the polls by 40 points. Uh huh. Cool.
After striking his shot, Trump claimed it had travelled about 280 yards. “Biden can’t hit it 80 down the middle,” he said.
OK. Is Trump actually coming to America to appear at the trial?
“No,” [Trump lawyer Joe] Tacopina responded when asked if Trump would appear in person.
(Yesterday, the judge took the basically unprecedented step of giving Tacopina and Trump a little time to MAKE EXTRA CERTAIN they're on the same page regarding whether Trump will testify. Mind you, Carroll's lawyers have rested and Trump's lawyers were just about to. So when he bitches about how UNFAIR BIASSSS this judge is against him, keep that in mind.)
But maybe Trump's gonna have to make some empty threats to come confront Special Counsel Jack Smith, because the New York Times broke a bunch of news about all Smith's criminal investigations into Trump and his pals last night.
Maggie Haberman and about 8,000 other reporters are bylined, so you know it's full of words and news.
In the classified docs investigation into why Trump stole state secrets and hid them under Eric's spare floaties next to the pool at Mar-a-Lago, and why he obstructed efforts by the feds to get them back, Haberman and Co. report that they have a new confidential cooperating witness, somebody who has "worked for him at Mar-a-Lago," which seems like interesting phrasing from the reporters. Just last month we were learning that there's a major focus on whether Trump personally touched documents himself in an effort to pull things back and hide them after the feds demanded them in May 2022.
We've talked about Walt Nauta, Trump's very loyal valet, who has done some testifying on this subject. Well, regarding Walt, who was apparently a real pain in the ass with investigators:
[P]rosecutors appear to be trying to fill in some gaps in their knowledge about the movement of the boxes, created in part by their handling of another potentially key witness, Mr. Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta. Prosecutors believe Mr. Nauta has failed to provide them with a full and accurate account of his role in any movement of boxes containing the classified documents.
What? A Trump loyalist being less than forthcoming, allegedly? We might need a minute to process.
Buncha new people being subpoenaed in that investigation. "At least four more Mar-a-Lago employees," says the Times, using different phrasing from how they talked about the secret cooperating witness. According to their sources, that brings the count of Mar-a-Lago employees subpoenaed to pretty much ALL OF THEM KATIE. Also, a subpoena for "another person who had visibility into Mr. Trump’s thinking when he first returned material to the National Archives." And some subpoenas for the Trump Organization for more surveillance tape. And Matthew Calamari, his head of security at the company, and Calamari's son Little Matthew Calamari, who also does security stuff there.
So many subpoenas!
But hoping to understand why some of the footage from the storage camera appears to be missing or unavailable — and whether that was a technological issue or something else — the prosecutors subpoenaed the software company that handles all of the surveillance footage for the Trump Organization, including at Mar-a-Lago.
Oh dang. Funny how in these days of Internet Dot Com nothing really is ever all the way deleted. We imagine sometimes Boomers get to learn that the hard way. Womp womp.
Still talking about new subpoenas, but UH OH SKETTI OH, pretty sure this is a whole new wang to this investigation that we didn't know about before:
One of the previously unreported subpoenas to the Trump Organization sought records pertaining to Mr. Trump’s dealings with a Saudi-backed professional golf venture known as LIV Golf, which is holding tournaments at some of Mr. Trump’s golf resorts.
It is unclear what bearing Mr. Trump’s relationship with LIV Golf has on the broader investigation, but it suggests that the prosecutors are examining certain elements of Mr. Trump’s family business.
Oh shit! It's the Saudi stuff! Oh shit!
Well, since we have no idea how exactly that pertains to the investigation, we'll just have to wait and see.
But oh shit!
Maybe Trump is just one of those guys where you're investigating one set of crimes and then you don't even mean to but you find some other crimes and it's like huh what's that?
Shut up, there's no "maybe" about it, that's exactly how it is.
Anyway, Haberman and pals have more good backgrounder, if you need to refresh, so read it all.
Also remember that Jack Smith is also investigating Trump's role in January 6 and his months-long campaign to overturn the election he lost and overthrow the government.
Have a fun day and week and month and rest of life, Donald Trump! Things are just really looking up for you.
[Politico / New York Daily News / New York Times]
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Pentagon Leaker Idjit Was Caught Before He Could Do Any Mass Shootings
He seems nice.
Federal prosecutors argued at a hearing yesterday that Massachusetts Air National Guard guy Jack Teixeira needs to stay in jail before his trial for allegedly leaking classified Pentagon documents. The 21-year-old walking security risk should be detained until trial because he gave up a ton of military secrets for the sake of impressing his gamer dork friends on Discord, the prosecutors said. Teixeira also regularly talked about his desire to equip a minivan or SUV as an "assassination van" and to "kill a [expletive] ton of people," for the lulz we guess. The DOJ detention memo did not specify whether that was a shit ton of people or a fuck ton of people, nor whether, if it were the latter, he meant a metric or standard fuck ton.
Magistrate Judge David Hennessy didn't make an immediate decision yesterday on whether Teixeira will be kept in jail before trial, or to grant his attorneys' request that he be allowed to stay under supervision at his father's home, because he's a good boy who would definitely stay off the internet and there's no chance he'd flee.
The feds' court filing detailed Teixeira's murderous fantasies, as well as the trove of weapons he'd collected, and argued that he's too much of a flight risk to let out of jail, particularly since he might still have classified information that hasn't yet made it to public view. That information, the government argued, could be of "tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States."
We can see that the government wouldn't want to risk that, even if it would settle online arguments about whether Thor could beat the Russian military in Ukraine alone, or if he'd need help from Doctor Strange or Captain America. (Iron Man or Captain Marvel would be too over-powered to make the argument worth even having.)
The feds show that Teixeira has a long history of talking about killing and shit, going back to an incident in high school (in March 2018, which was like last Tuesday for most of us) that led to his suspension after
a classmate overheard him make remarks about weapons, including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats. In the pretrial services interview, the Defendant attributed those remarks to a reference to a video game.
Call us skeptical, since we're pretty sure that "guns at the school and racial threats" aren't part of any video games, unless maybe Teixeira had downloaded the special School Shooter Expansion Pack. That incident also kept Teixeira from being approved for a firearms ID card, since 1) local police knew about it and 2) Massachusetts actually has sane firearms laws.
But the boy really wanted guns, and was eventually able to buy a small arsenal after getting his application approved, in part because he "cited his position of trust in the United States government as a reason he could be trusted to possess a firearm." Who says government lawyers don't have a sense of irony?
When Teixeira was arrested, FBI agents found a gun locker in his bedroom containing "multiple weapons, including handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, an AK-style high-capacity weapon, and a gas mask." Elsewhere in his room, agents found ammunition, "tactical pouches," and what seems to be a silencer, which would be illegal unless he had a license.
And then there's the jolly social media posts where he talked up all the murder he wanted to do:
The Defendant’s statements included the following:
• In November 2022, the Defendant stated that if he had his way, he would “kill a [expletive] ton of people” because it would be “culling the weak minded.”
• In February 2023, the Defendant told a user that he was tempted to make a specific type of minivan into an “assassination van.”
• Also in February 2023, the Defendant sought advice from another user about what type of rifle would be easy to operate from the back of an SUV. He describes how he would conduct the shooting in a “crowded urban or suburban environment.”
• In March 2023, the Defendant described SUVs and crossovers as “mobile gun trucks” and “[o]ff-road and good assassination vehicles.”
OK but who among us hasn't occasionally told all our online buds that we need to cull the weak by going full DC sniper? Oh, all of us?
The filing also noted that Teixeira had taken some very half-assed steps to try to cover his tracks, since tampering with witnesses and destroying evidence are among the criteria that can be used to order detention until trial. He deleted the Discord server where he had shared the classified documents, told friends to "delete all messages" and "If anyone comes looking, don’t tell them shit," and gotten a new phone number and email address.
Teixeira also smashed up a tablet, a laptop, and his Xbox — although he may not be a super spy, since the FBI found the devices in a dumpster at his parents' house, where he lived.
At yesterday's hearing, the AP reports, Judge Hennessey
expressed skepticism of defense arguments that the government hasn’t alleged Teixeira intended leaked information to be widely disseminated.
“Somebody under the age of 30 has no idea that when they put something on the internet that it could end up anywhere in this world?” the judge asked. “Seriously?”
We can only assume that Teixeira's defense in the case will be that he's simply too fucking stupid to have been a threat to national security.
[AP / Pretrial Detention Memo / Vox]
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Donald Trump Gets His Ass Kicked In Court. No, A DIFFERENT Court.
State and federal courts on the same day? Impressive.
In other happy news, Donald Trump is having a bad day in ALL the courts. Obviously, there's that whole indictment thing. But before he got fingerprinted in Manhattan, Trump started the morning getting his ass kicked by the DC Circuit.
This is going to require a journey through the federal court docket, so ... grab your reading glasses and get in, nerd, we're going lawsplaining!
Remember last summer when Mark Meadows told the House January 6 Select Committee he wasn't going to cooperate anymore with their subpoena for documents and testimony? By coincidence (LOL), that decision to flip off the committee came approximately five minutes after Trump's PAC gave $1 million to Meadows's employer, the Conservative Partnership Institute. But the Justice Department ignored the referral from Congress and declined to prosecute Meadows and Trump's comms flack Dan Scavino for contempt, so, that was the end of that.
But if you blow off a grand jury, or shout EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE in response to every question, you wind up with a different result. Also, Special Counsel Jack Smith is no Attorney General Merrick Garland. (And he's not Bob Mueller either, while we're making comparisons.) So Smith's team went straight to the US District Court in DC, where then-Chief Judge Beryl Howell has dropkicked every single one of Trump's privilege claims, on grounds of PISS OFF, THIS IS A COUP INVESTIGATION. Well, more or less. The orders are sealed, so we don't really know. But judging by all the reporting, it seems that's the long and short of it.
On March 24, ABC reported that Judge Howell had overruled Trump's privilege claims for Meadows, Scavino, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former national security adviser Robert O'Brien, gross bigot monster Stephen Miller, acting DHS head (and gross bigot monster) Ken Cuccinelli, and Trump aides Nick Luna and Johnny McEntee. We broke it down for you last week, and we also mentioned that Judge Howell had abrogated attorney-client privilege with respect to Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran. That post was extra fun, not only because we would dearly love to do LOCK HER UPS to Trump, but because his lawyers waited several days to file an emergency appeal of that order seeking a stay, something they should have done that very night. The DC Circuit issue a temporary stay, ordered the two sides to brief the issue overnight — breaking the judicial land speed record — and then dissolved the stay the following day, ordering Corcoran to testify.
High comedy, and ... you see where all this is going, right?
Now, let's head over to the docket for this case, which has proceeded entirely under seal.
On March 29, Trump and his lawyers finally moseyed into the DC Circuit and filed their appeal. Take your time, boys!
That's not an emergency appeal — that's just put them in the regular line. They don't get around to filing for an emergency stay until 9 PM YESTERDAY.
At 11:18 p.m., the three judge panel (two Obama appointees and Judge Katsas, one of Trump's worst nominees), issue a sealed order for the government and Trump to brief the issue. Now, we don't know what that order says, but we take a pretty good guess, since the the government responded at 1:25 a.m., and Trump's people turned in their homework at 9:27 a.m.
At 12:12 p.m., the panel issued a per curiam order (that means it was unsigned) denying the motion to stay Judge Howell's order.
That means that Meadows, Scavino, Miller, and all the rest of those goobers are going to have to get their lily white asses down to Special Counsel Smith's grand jury and say what they saw. And, yes, it's possible that Trump will appeal this order to the Supreme Court. He's certainly got every incentive to take a chance on SCOTUS, considering that Mark Meadows was part of the fake electors scheme, and the effort to ratfuck the Georgia vote count, and the attempted coup at the DOJ, and the pre-riot rally on the Ellipse, and the actual plan to storm the Capitol. But the Court has shown exactly zero interest in protecting Trump since he left office, rejecting, among other things, Trump's demand to shield his presidential records and his tax returns from Congress. So, while he might get a short administrative stay, this weird, opaque docket may be even worse news for Trump than that indictment we're all waiting for.
It's a beautiful day.
[In re: Sealed Case (23-3043), Docket via Court Listener]
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Josh Hawley Finds A Hate Crime He Cares About
Reminder: the authorities haven't even stated a motive in the Nashville mass shooting.
Following Monday's horrific mass shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, the rightwing outrage machine has finally decided America needs to do something about gun violence. Just kidding, they'd rather ignore the guns and continue escalating panic over transgender people to even greater levels.
Among the few things we know about the shooter, Audrey Hale, who was killed by police just 15 minutes after the attack began, is that Hale was a former student of the school, that Hale had in recent months begun identifying online as transgender, using he/him pronouns in a LinkedIn account, and that police found some writings in Hale's house that they're calling a "manifesto," although whatever that constitutes hasn't yet been released.
That was all rightwing media and politicians needed to know to proclaim not only that Hale was motivated by being trans, but also that Hale absolutely hated Christianity and Christians, because after all, the target was a Christian school. Lost in that certainty, of course, is the detail that Hale had attended that very school as a child. Therefore, like many school shooters, Hale was attacking a familiar target.
The New York Post's very responsible front page yesterday screamed a bunch of stuff that there's no actual evidence for, all mostly based on unfounded speculation. It proclaimed, "TRANSGENDER KILLER TARGETS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL," implying both that Hale's being trans was the reason for the attack, and that their motive was to attack Christians, neither of which we actually know enough to say yet. The subhed made it even more bizarre, stating that "‘Manifesto’ leads to 6 dead, including three young kids." These manifestos are pretty deadly things!
As The Nation'sElie Mystal points out,
The “manifesto” did not “lead” to six dead people. The two assault rifles and handgun the shooter brought with them led to six dead people. If the shooter had shown up to school armed with a manifesto, everybody would still be alive.
The people writing headlines for the Post are probably evil, but they’re not stupid. They know exactly what they’re doing. [...]
As is usual for places where conservatives get their media, the Post takes real problems and inverts them to fit the white grievance narrative.
And so, as always, white Christians are justified in whatever fears they want to project on the despised minority, because for once, unlike in 98 percent of mass shootings, the shooter was not a cisgender white male with a gun. The killer was a trans person. With three guns, all of them purchased legally. (Part, we now know, of a seven gun arsenal Hale had purchased over the last few years.)
Evan has already looked at the insane persecution ravings of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, both of whom are equally certain that the school shooting portends a coming wave of trans people attacking innocent Christians. But Sen. Josh Hawley (R- Missouri), the culture warrior who frets about how feminists are stealing men's masculinity and hiding it in clever wooden boxes they buy on Etsy, yesterday went beyond mere rabble-rousing. Hawley sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to demand that the Nashville shooting be investigated as a "hate crime," because if someone shoots up a church school, the shooter must hate Christianity. That's just logic.
Hawley, based on a police statement that the school had been "targeted," added his own spin, going beyond anything police have actually said. Police have not yet identified a motive for the shootings, beyond saying it appears that Hale may have felt "some resentment for having to go to that school."
“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence,'" Hawley wrote, adding his very own explication that "properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.” Which, again, police didn't say. (Is pointing that out three times enough?)
And yes, Josh Hawley knows damn well that the standard for a hate crimes prosecution is higher than "it happened at a church school, so it was a hate crime aimed at Christians."
Hawley's letter cited the federal hate crimes statute, emphasizing that it includes religion-based violence, and stretched the little we know so far to come to the conclusion that the shooting had to be a hate crime, even though so far police haven't released Hale's writings or said anything more than that suggestion that Hale felt "resentment" toward the school. Maybe it was religious resentment, sure. Or maybe it wasn't. But before we know any of that, Hawley wants the "full resources" of federal law enforcement thrown at investigating the attack, not only to discover the motive, but also to find out "who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes." Wouldn't it be great to blame people in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, or maybe some militant atheists?
Hawley closed by solemnly stating, "Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted." That seems like a pretty commonplace thought, until you're reminded that in 2021, when Asian Americans were being targeted for hate crimes during the pandemic, Hawley was the only senator to vote against a resolution calling for expedited review of those crimes by the DOJ.
At the time, Hawley warned that there was no reason to turn the "federal government into the speech police," and also fretted about letting the government have "sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it."
But come now, that bill was clearly an attack on Donald Trump for calling COVID-19 the "China Virus" and the "Kung Flu," and Donald Trump's words are by definition not hateful, why would you even suggest such a thing?
[The Nation / Guardian / NBC News / Photo: Josh Hawley (cropped) by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]
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