Discover more from The Bulwark
A Monday morning grab-bag of sleaze, corruption, and groping.
Catching up on a Monday morning:
Actually a real headline: “Lauren Boebert groped 'Beetlejuice' date in heavy-petting session before getting tossed out.”
Not too sleazy for MAGA: The Ken Paxton Verdict Is Not the Vindication Republicans Want - The New Yorker
All the best people, Part I: “Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis turns on ‘malignant narcissist’ ex-president Donald Trump” - The Guardian
All the best people, Part Deux. “Elon Musk, Andrew Tate, Tucker Carlson defend Russell Brand.”
Be alarmed, Part Deux:
Morning Shots is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
A Gag Order for the Former Guy?
Well, this was inevitable.
For months now, Donald Trump has been goading, insulting, threatening, and attacking judges, juries, and prosecutors. The sort of thing that gets your average criminal defendant sanctioned or jailed.
Jack Smith has finally had enough.
The special counsel has filed a motion asking Judge Tanya Chutkan to impose a limited gag order on the former president. The order would prevent Trump from making (1) any statements about the identity or testimony of witnesses in the case or (2) any remarks that could be considered “disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating” about anyone involved in the case.
“Since the indictment in this case, the defendant has spread disparaging and inflammatory public posts on Truth Social on a near-daily basis regarding the citizens of the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors and prospective witnesses,
“Like his previous public disinformation campaign regarding the 2020 presidential election, the defendant’s recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the court, the jury pool, witnesses and prosecutors.”
While the motion itself sought “a narrow, well-defined restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements,” it lays out in granular detail Trump’s pattern and practice of deception, intimidation, and obstructions.
It recounts his long history of “issuing inflammatory public statements targeted at individuals or institutions that present an obstacle or challenge to him.”
In the period between the presidential election on November 3, 2020, and the congressional certification proceeding on January 6, 2021, the defendant trained his focus on the election system, including election officials and other individuals carrying out civic duties to implement fair elections in various states. As a result, the defendant engendered widespread mistrust in the administration of the election, and the individuals whom he targeted were subject to threats and harassment.
The motion then details all of Trump’s ongoing attacks on the judge, prosecutors, and the potential jury pool, including his most inflammatory social media posts.
The defendant made clear his intent to issue public attacks related to this case when, the day after his arraignment, he posted a threatening message on Truth Social: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
And he has made good on his threat….
Smith & Co. then bring the receipts:
The defendant has posted repeated, inflammatory attacks on the judicial system, the Court, and the citizens of the District of Columbia who comprise the jury pool in this case. The defendant has made baseless claims cited or inserted below that the justice system is rigged against him; that the Court is a “fraud dressed up as a judge in Washington, D.C. who is a radical Obama hack” or is a biased, “Trump-hating judge”; and that he cannot get a fair trial from the residents of “this filthy and crime ridden District that is over 95% anti- Trump.”
Similarly, the defendant has posted false and disparaging claims regarding the Department of Justice and prosecutors in the Special Counsel's Office in an attempt to undermine confidence in the justice system and prejudice the jury pool against the Government in advance of trial. In a video posted to Truth Social, the defendant called the Special Counsel's Office a “team of thugs”.
Recently, the defendant has spread knowingly false accusations of misconduct against a prosecutor in the Special Counsel's Office… In his posts on this topic, the defendant repeatedly makes the knowingly false claim that Special Counsel's Office prosecutors went to the White House in advance of the defendant's June 2023 indictment for improper reasons…
With that same goal, the defendant has posted misleading claims on Truth Social to insinuate misconduct by the Special Counsel's Office in pursuing ordinary court-approved process or seeking the indictment in this case. Regarding a search warrant and non-disclosure order that the Government received from the court consistent with the law, for instance, the defendant falsely claimed that the Special Counsel's Office broke into his former Twitter account “in a major hit on my civil rights” and queried whether the Special Counsel directed the Select Committee to “DESTROY & DELETE all evidence.”
And on August 2, the defendant posted a quote alleging, without any basis, that the indictment that a federal grand jury in this case returned had been directed by the sitting president: “Joe Biden directed his Attorney General to prosecute his rival. This is not an independent Justice Department; this is not an independent special counsel. This is being directed by the Commander-in-Chief.”
Through such posts, the defendant is attempting to submit his false and inflammatory claims to the public and jury pool outside of court, because he knows that any such claims made before the Court in the form of motions to suppress or of vindictive prosecution will fail, because they must be supported by evidence, of which there is none.
The special counsel also accused Trump of attempting to intimidate witnesses.
The defendant has also posted publicly about individuals whom he has reason to believe will be witnesses in this trial. For instance, on August 30, the defendant posted a video attacking the former Attorney General of the United States, a potential witness in this case, on the very subject of his testimony.
Steadily since indictment, the defendant has publicly bolstered certain prospective witnesses in this case, while attacking others, in an effort to influence the public's and the jury pool's impressions of potential witnesses outside of the courtroom.
Again, prosecutors cited Trump’s social media bleats:
Meanwhile, Trump keeps confessing.
Donald Trump doomed one of his legal defenses during his interview with NBC’s Kristen Welker that aired on Sunday’s broadcast of “Meet The Press,” said legal experts.
Trump told Welker it was his decision — and not that of his lawyers — to challenge the 2020 election result.
“Were you calling the shots, though, Mr. President, ultimately?” Welker asked Trump. The ex-POTUS replied: “As to whether or not I believed it was rigged? Oh, sure … it was my decision. But I listened to some people. Some people said that.”…
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal… said Trump’s comment had just made U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s election obstruction case against him “a lot easier.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, meanwhile, told Psaki it was actually a “twofer” admission from the former president because Trump also admitted to Welker that he’d demanded the votes stop being counted.
“He just said it on air to NBC, stop counting the votes. Well, that’s not allowed,” Weissmann explained.
1. Putin’s Antisemitic Freakout
ONE REASON PUTIN IS “FREAKING OUT” is that Ukraine’s Jewish president keeps messing with his narrative of the war against Ukraine as a continuation of the Soviet Union’s “sacred war” against Nazism. To make the “denazification” canard fly (at least in Putin’s own eyes), the Jew Zelensky must be a recast as a Nazi, a Nazi sympathizer, or a Nazi puppet—efforts that almost invariably have an antisemitic flavor. While Putin’s labeling of Zelensky as a puppet of his “Western handlers” inverts the usual trope of the Jew as the evil puppet master, it still assigns a central place in an insidious global plot to “an ethnic Jew.”
2. Do We Really Want a President DeSantis Setting COVID Policy?
THERE ARE COUNTLESS REASONS WHY Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis should not get anywhere near the Oval Office. Maybe the latest outrage will cut through the fog of tribal war. I speak, of course, of the governor and his seriously strange surgeon general telling Floridians that they should not get the new COVID shot unless they’re over 65. This is a matter of life and death for all of us, and yet DeSantis is using it as a strategy to “regain his middle-finger bona fides” in the 2024 Republican primary race, as political and legal analyst Jay Kuo puts it.
The updated vaccine has passed muster with both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends it for everyone over six months old, based on data showing that universal vaccination will reduce hospitalizations, deaths, and Long COVID. The agency says “hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine” under “the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.”
Never mind all that. “We will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use Floridians as guinea pigs for mRNA jabs that have not been proven to be safe or effective,” DeSantis said last week. “Jabs” that in the governor’s expert opinion have been “hastily approved.” Listen to us, he says, not those federal bureaucrats trying to run your life.