January 6

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?

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It's Your Pre-Trump Arraignment Sunday Show Rundown!

The countdown to the mug shot begins now!

As we've said before, Donald Trump has been indicted and is expected to turn himself in for arraignment on Tuesday and the MAGA Industrial Complex has not been taking it well.

Let's check in on the Sunday shows and see how some of them are doing now.

Joe Tacopina Returns!

It seems like only yesterday (or last week) that we reveled in the "brilliant" legalese of Joseph Tacopina, Trump's current attorney and a man who answers the question "What would happen if The Brooklyn Brawler practiced law instead of wrestling?"

This week, Tacopina made dual appearances on CNN's "State Of The Union" and ABC's "This Week," but with similar results. On CNN, when host Dana Bash asked him what we could expect from Trump's return to New York, Tacopina set the expectations low.

TACOPINA: [...] I honestly don't know how this is going to go, hopefully as smoothly as possible, and then we begin the battle to right this wrong, because it's a -- really, it's a day that, in my opinion, the rule of law in the United States has died.

Remember, kids: Showing that no one is above the law is the true death of justice.

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January 6

Judge Orders Mike Pence To Testify To Grand Jury About Trump, But Not About Being A 'Senator'


Mike Pence is a man of faith. He believes many things, despite lacking any empirical evidence of their truth. Yes, even that he, Mike Pence, a guy with all the depth and charm of a "What Would Jesus Do?" bumper sticker, might one day become president of God's own US of America. Which is fine, of course. It's a free country, and we all need a hobby. But Mike Pence would like us to believe in childish fantasies, too, and therein lies the problem. Because the former vice president has declined to comply with a subpoena to testify to the grand jury investigating the events of January 6, 2021, and he'd like us to accept that he's doing it to protect the sacred integrity of the Constitution.

Mike Pence's theory, or more accurately, the one cooked up by his very good lawyers, is that he was acting as president of the Senate with regard to his role opening the envelopes containing state elector certifications. And so he claims legislative immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause that protects him from having to testify about anything related to that day.

“He thinks that the ‘speech or debate’ clause is a core protection for Article I, for the legislature,” a source in Pence's camp told Politico. “He feels it really goes to the heart of some separation of powers issues. He feels duty-bound to maintain that protection, even if it means litigating it.”

Well, it's a lot. But Pence seems to have at least partially persuaded a federal court of the strength of this argument, since Chief Judge James Boasberg said this week that he does not have to answer Special Counsel Jack Smith's questions about what he did on January 6 specifically with regard to his "legislative" duties. As for the rest of it, he can start talking, though, since Judge Boasberg dropkicked Trump's attempt to use executive privilege to block Pence's testimony.

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Joe Tacopina: Trump's Newest Bad Lawyer

It's your very legally amateur Sunday show rundown!

It's either because he's a terrible client or never pays his bills or no one wants to be on the losing side, but Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to pick out the worst attorneys to ever pass the bar. His latest legal draft pick: Joseph Tacopina, who appeared on this Sunday's "Meet The Press" with Chuck Todd.

Similar to an infamous appearance by Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Todd's oft-suppressed journalistic instincts awakened when given such an incompetent target. The trouble for Tacopina began when Todd asked why Trump got the media and the right-wing into a lather about his impending arrest last week. Tacopina, because he couldn't just say his client is a bullshit artist who is willing to incite dumbasses to protect his own hide, tried to blame others.

TACOPINA: No, he didn't make it up, he was reacting towards a lot of leaks coming out of the district attorney's office. There had been a leak, Chuck, that Monday, the day before that Tuesday, there was a law enforcement meeting, including Secret Service and NYPD, that was going to go through the logistics of the arraignment. [...] So he just, I think he just assumed based on those leaks that that's what was going to happen.

As Lemony Snicket once wrote, "Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble." Neither Tacopina nor his client have ever learned this lesson, which is why the rest of Tacopina's answers to Todd's questions came off as a series of unfortunate events for his credibility. When Todd read some of Trump's public statements on social media, specifically targeting Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Tacopina attempted to change the subject.

TACOPINA: So Chuck, as his lawyer, I want to dissect this case, because it's a case that shouldn't be brought and wouldn't be brought if it were anyone other than Donald Trump, let's be clear about that. Does anyone actually think [...] that anyone else would be prosecuted for making a civil settlement in a hush money case with personal funds? Of course not.

Literally that was what Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was prosecuted for and served federal prison time for. The crime, mind you, that was at the direction of and reimbursed by Donald Trump through his businesses and he's currently being investigated for.

Todd, again, pressed Tacopina about Trump's attacks on Bragg through social media and Tacopina deflected poorly.

TACOPINA: [...] Again, I'm not his social media consultant. I don’t -- I think that was an ill-advised post that one of his social media people put up, and he quickly took down when he realized the rhetoric in the photo that was attached to it. But that being said --
TODD: You're only referring to the baseball bat.
TACOPINA: ... I'm not here to defend or support —
TODD: He didn't take down the other rhetoric. [...]

Tacopina then reverted back to his only defense of Trump, mainly that this was "personal funds" and "would have been made payment irrespective of the candidacy or campaign," which he views as bulletproof for his client. But when Todd pulled his best Inigo Montoya impression about this "personal funds" argument, Tacopina made a colossal legal mistake that even Todd couldn't ignore.

TODD: [...] So you call it personal funds. It is, in a court of law, it's been proven —
TACOPINA: It is personal funds.
TODD: — that it was Trump Organization funds.
TACOPINA: It's personal funds. It was not funds related to the campaign. That's the distinction —
TODD: But he used a Trump Organization check.
TACOPINA: It's not campaign finance laws. But Chuck, that's personal, that’s personal. It has nothing to do with the campaign —
TODD: So everything with the Trump Organization is Donald Trump the person?
TACOPINA: Let's focus this —
TODD: I mean, you realize the door you're opening there.

I don't think Tacopina realized what he did there, Chuck, as his continued answer dug the hole deeper.

TACOPINA: [...] These were personal funds. By all accounts, these were personal funds, not campaign funds. It's personal or campaign – whether Trump Organization, Donald Trump the person, you know, Mar-A-Lago Corporation, whatever it is – they're personal and not campaign funds. And that's the key distinction here. If they were campaign funds, we'd be having a different discussion. [...]

But, as Todd then pointed out, Tacopina's client might not be facing campaign finance charges.

Tacopina basically admitted what everyone knows: The Trump family uses his organizations and corporations as their own personal piggy banks, much like they did with the Trump "charities."

This makes DA Bragg's case much easier ... not that he needs help since he's done this type of case many times before despite what Trump's surrogates say.

TODD: But again, what this investigation may end up being is about the, essentially the falsifying business records. Which by the way, this prosecutor has brought over 60 – this one and the previous one – has brought over 60 times over the last four years. This is not an unusual crime to charge somebody with [...]

When Todd brought up falsifying business records and ledgers to say the payments were "legal fees," Tacopina outlined how somehow that was ok in what will probably be what he's remembered for after all this.

TACOPINA: [...] Seriously, what would he personal ledger? "Payment for hush money to quiet an affair that I claim I never had so my family doesn't get embarrassed." Is that what he should put in his ledger? There's no, nothing wrong with putting whatever you want in your ledger [...] You're being petty. [...]

Todd ended the segment these clips of a very familiar lawyer saying how this was crime when it was first reported in 2018.

We bet Tacopina wishes his reality show dreams hadn't flamed out 5 years ago.

Have a week.

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