March 31, 2023

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

Freedom Caucus Chair Was Central Figure In 2020 Subversion Effort

Politico peels back the curtain a bit on a long-running secret court fight over whether the Justice Department can access the contents of Rep. Scott Perry’s phone as part of its Jan. 6 investigation.

The Pennsylvania Republican congressman was at the center of some of the post-election scheming to overturn the 2020 election. It was Perry who introduced DOJ functionary Jeffrey Clark to President Trump.

The current legal fight remains secret because it is an outgrowth of grand jury proceedings, which are themselves secret. Here’s what we know thanks to the sleuthing of Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein:

  • The FBI seized Perry’s phone back in August under a court-approved warrant.
  • A fight at the district court level ensued over whether federal investigator could access the phone. Perry, as a sitting member of Congress, raised constitutional separation of power concerns, among other defenses. The exact contours of the clashing legal arguments remains unknown.
  • On Dec. 28, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell ruled against Perry and granted DOJ access to the contents of the phone.
  • On Jan. 5, a three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Howell’s ruling while Perry’s appeal is considered. The three judges are Trump appointees Neomi Rao and Gregory Katsas and Bush I appointee Karen Henderson.
  • The appeals court has set a briefing schedule and a Feb. 23 oral argument in the matter.
  • The House of Representatives on a somewhat bipartisan basis moved last Friday to intervene in the case to protect its institutional prerogatives.

It’s not clear from Politico’s reporting whether Jack Smith took over this matter when he was appointed special counsel, but it’s my presumption that he did.

It’s Back For Real Apparently

Donald Trump’s hush money scheme to silence porn actress Stormy Daniels is going to a New York grand jury:

  • Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker was seen with his lawyer entering the building where the grand jury is sitting.
  • Other expected witnesses who have yet to testify include former National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and Trump Org employees Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff, the NYT reported.

The case is being brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who famously stopped the probe soon after taking office last year.

Trump In Another Bind

A judge has ruled that former President Trump must reveal the amount of money he’s paying to settle a lawsuit over his 2016 campaign’s use of non-disclosure agreements. Under the settlement, Trump has agreed not to enforce the NDAs.

Trump Sues Bob Woodward

Claiming he never agreed to the sale of the audiotapes of his interviews with Bob Woodward for his book Rage, the former president has sued the journalist and publisher Simon & Schuster for at least $50 million.

Matt Gaetz Grilled On His Alleged Pardon Request

Pinned down by Ari Melber on his reported request for a pardon in the waning days of the Trump presidency, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) mustered a feeble: “Cassidy Hutchinson is a known liar.”

Fallout Continues In Memphis

In the aftermath of the fatal police beating of Tyre Nicols:

  • Two more Memphis police officers were suspended.
  • The Memphis fire department terminated three EMTs.

It’s Going To Be A Long Two Years

Meadows Ally To Plead Guilty In Campaign Finance Case

A close ally of former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows has agreed to plead guilty to accepting a contribution from a family member exceeding $25,000, Politico reports. The contribution was given “in the name of another person,” according to court filings.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

It’s only the chair of the House Budget Committee. Nothing to worry about …

Inside A Neo-Nazi Homeschool Network


Since the group began in October 2021 it has openly embraced Nazi ideology and promoted white supremacy, while proudly discouraging parents from letting their white children play with or have any contact with people of any other race. Admins and members use racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slurs without shame, and quote Hitler and other Nazi leaders daily in a channel open to the public. 

Lindsey Graham Deserves Everything He Has Coming To Him

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