March 23, 2023

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

Single Malt Justice

It turns out Bill Barr and John Durham were sipping scotch as they burned down Main Justice.

Extraordinary new reporting from the New York Times peels back more layers of corruption, malfeasance, and politicization within the Barr Justice Department. In a groundbreaking story that is focused on Special Counsel John Durham but is really an indictment of Barr, the NYT unveils several previously unreported episodes:

  • Durham Investigated Trump?!? The most explosive revelation in the NYT piece is that Barr allegedly directed Durham to dramatically expand his brief beyond “investigating the investigators” by opening a financial crimes investigation in the fall of 2019 of President Donald Trump based on a tantalizing tip from Italian authorities. It’s unclear how and to what extent Durham investigated the tip. No charges ever resulted. While it’s unclear what exactly Durham did with the tip, the strong impression left by the story is that the Trump investigation was buried.
  • Oopsies! The New York Times and other news outlets later misleadingly reported that Durham’s review of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe had turned into a criminal investigation, suggesting that the Durham was zeroing in on the investigators of Trump. In fact, Durham’s criminal probe involved Trump himself. Burr never sought to correct the widespread public misperception:

The news reports, however, were all framed around the erroneous assumption that the criminal investigation must mean Mr. Durham had found evidence of potential crimes by officials involved in the Russia inquiry. Mr. Barr, who weighed in publicly about the Durham inquiry at regular intervals in ways that advanced a pro-Trump narrative, chose in this instance not to clarify what was really happening.

  • Resignations … Lots Of Them. Multiple members of Durham’s team allegedly resigned in disputes over prosecutorial ethics and the charging decisions he was making.
  • Bogus Intel. In an unbelievably ironic twist, Durham allegedly used dubious intel from the Dutch and sidestepped a federal judge’s objections to obtain emails from a U.S. citizen who worked at a pro-democracy organization founded by George Soros. Later the Trump administration would infuriate the Dutch by publicly revealing the intel.
  • Election Interference. The bad-faith machinations of Barr and Durham reached their zenith in the summer of 2020, when Barr allegedly pressed Durham to draft an interim report before Election Day. The draft interim report was never released but it prompted the resignation of a longtime Durham protege. Then there’s this nugget about how Durham’s original investigation had never panned out:

By summer 2020, it was clear that the hunt for evidence supporting Mr. Barr’s hunch about intelligence abuses had failed. But he waited until after the 2020 election to publicly concede that there had turned out to be no sign of “foreign government activity” and that the C.I.A. had “stayed in its lane” after all.

There’s a lot more. Definitely worth a read.

John Eastman Faces Disbarment In California

In a scathing 11-count complaint, the California state bar has moved to disbar former Trump lawyer John Eastman, the architect of the Jan. 6 coup plot. Here’s the meat of the complaint:

What’s Jack Smith Up To?

Ken Cuccinelli was spotted at the federal courthouse in DC and confirmed to CNN that he was there to testify to a grand jury but he didn’t know about what:

Cuccinelli headed into the grand jury area just before 10 a.m. ET at the federal courthouse, where prosecutors looking at efforts to undermine the 2020 election as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation are also gathered.

Cuccinelli, a top official in the Trump DHS, intersected with the 2020 election subversion scheme, at various points. He cited privilege in refusing to answer some of the Jan. 6 committee’s questions, privilege claims Special Counsel Jack Smith may be able to sidestep with the grand jury:

Trump Dealt Setback In Jan. 6 Lawsuit

A federal judge in DC declined to dismiss a civil lawsuit by Capitol Police officers against Donald Trump and others for injuries they sustained on Jan. 6.

Bouquets And Brickbats

Bouquet: “Gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will no longer be forced to abstain from sex to donate blood under federal guidelines to be proposed in coming days, ending a vestige of the earliest days of the AIDS crisis.”

Brickbat: “Tennessee has rejected millions of dollars from the federal government for HIV/AIDS prevention — a move that public health experts worry will politicize the response to the disease and has the potential to destabilize decades of progress in getting the epidemic under control.”

Memphis On Edge Ahead Of Release Of Police Beating Video

Memphis is expected to release Friday evening the “absolutely appalling” video of police officers beating a 29-year-old Black man to death after a traffic stop. Five police officers, all Black, have been arrested and charged in the case.

The Misinformation Is Never-Ending

Just another normal Thursday night on Fox News:

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