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Just What Putin Wanted

January 25, 2024
Notes
Transcript

Moscow Mitch capitulated to Trump’s electoral interests, Justice Scalia speaks from beyond, Lindsey may have flipped on Trump in Georgia, and reading the tea leaves on why the presidential immunity ruling is taking so long. Ben Wittes joins Charlie Sykes for The Trump Trials.

show notes:

https://www.lawfaremedia.org/article/what-justice-scalia-thought-about-whether-presidents-are-officers-of-the-united-states

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08
    Welcome to the Bulwark podcast Trump trials in twenty twenty four Donald Trump faces criminal trials in New York in Washington, DC in Fulton County and in Florida. And meanwhile, he faces fraud charges in New York. And today, he will be in a courtroom where he faces charges of defamation involving a woman that the court has already found he sexually assaulted. He prepped for that by putting out more than thirty attacks on social media because I don’t know political reptilian genius or something. So Because it is Thursday, we are joined by our good friend, Ben Wittis, editor in chief of Law Fair to break it all down.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:48
    Happy Thursday, Ben. Happy Thursday. I forgot to even mention that Peter Navarro is being sentenced today. So there’s that story as well.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:57
    For those who have forgotten the Peter Navarro case, this is actually a really interesting moment because Peter Navarro stiffed the January sixth committee refused to cooperate along with a number of other people, including Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows and Dan Scavino, and some of them were charged criminally for contempt of Congress, including, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro,
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:24
    who’s still free.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:25
    We’re not, but this is a good reminder to those of you who are considering simply ignoring a congressional subpoena that, you know, sometimes that act will catch up with you and It is a if memory serves contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor offense that can get up to a year. I believe Peter Navarro faced two counts of it, but I could be wrong about that. So, you know, a day of reckoning, he may actually serve some time in jail.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:59
    Imagine who knew. So just catching up, there’s so many other things that are going on. The, US Supreme Court is getting ready day hear Donald Trump’s arguments about the Colorado decision that would disqualify him. We’re still waiting on the DC circuit Court of Appeals decision on Donald Trump’s claim for total immunity. The full court refused to lift a gag order last week.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:24
    And then, of course, we had the US Supreme Court hand down a five four ruling that, rather, in some way, surprisingly, gave the Biden administration a win over the state of tech about the border. But I wanna get to this a little bit later. We’re getting all kinds of very interesting vibes from both Texas and Florida’s Ron DeSantis saying basically, yeah, we might not pay that much attention to this Supreme Court because we think the federal government does not have the power to tell us how we protect the state from foreign invasion. So with all of that, Ben, We have to start with something completely different. I wanna tell you a story about a lost puppy in Mequon, Wisconsin.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:07
    Alright.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:07
    Okay. This is complete news to me. I just wanna say sometimes we do a little prep for this, so, you know, we talk about what we’re gonna talk about. The Lost puppy in Mequon, Wisconsin never came up in our discussion. So we’re I’m here with the listener here completely at a loss.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:23
    This is the real America. I wanna remind people that while people we are a assessed with all of the insanity and the primaries and everything. The real America out here in in flyover country is still going on. So and and this is one of these community wide efforts. So here’s this brand, by the way, just so you know that it’s an important thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:40
    It’s actually on the front page of the local newspaper. I’m holding it up here for YouTube viewers. Basically here in the in the headline is community breeds collective sigh after missing puffy is found. And it is the story of this little puppy named Lucy. Who was at the Ozaki County humane society and a loving couple from Mequam adopted her.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:00
    She’s very, very nervous. Have you ever adopted a, a rescue puppy. I mean, they can be very, very gentle.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:05
    It takes
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:05
    them a long time. Yeah. It takes them a long time to get acclimated. So they come home you know, again, a couple of weeks ago. And she’s, you know, obviously, a little bit nervous.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:15
    They put her in her cage, but for some reason, the cage doesn’t get latched. This is the first night this puppy is in this house. Okay? The puppy nervous scared. Bolts from the cage runs out the door and into the night.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:31
    Now when I say runs into the night, this is right about the time that polar vortex was hitting the Midwest. So, you know, we know that Wisconsin is cold, but this was really cold. So this puppy is out there. And the temperature is dropping. It’s dropping from ten degrees to six degrees to four degrees and then drops into the negative zone.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:53
    And negative four in Wisconsin, can actually be colder than that even sounds because you have the wind chill that may drop at another ten degrees or so. So the word went out on social media. You know, the police of, you know, Facebook, various community organizations, neighborhood watches, where is Lucy? Where is this puppy? Because the little puppy is not gonna last long.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:11
    In this kind of incredible cold. I have big German shepherds. I have a German shepherd. It was a hundred and forty pounds, and yet we worry about him being outside too long in this kind of weather because you have the ears that are paused might might freeze. So the couple are, like, frantically searching.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:28
    Much of the community. And again, this was a community effort. They spent from Sunrise till sunset, searching every street, yard, and park. And, you know, it was really amazing. Lucy Holler told the news even when I was driving, I was over by the Miquan golf course, and I saw a guy in a pickup truck.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:42
    And I was like, hey, I lost my dog. Did you see her? And he was like, oh, yeah, Lucy. Yeah. I’m looking for Lucy too.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:49
    And again, people are giving up hope. So after a couple of days, she said, I kind of gave up. I’ll be honest, she admitted about halfway through the week, especially after there were, like, four days of no sightings. And with this kind of weather, I just thought there was no way that she survived. That probably she got frostbite, maybe succumb to a coyote or froze to death, where something happened, by the way, I have a coyote out in my backyard here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:12
    It was really emotionally devastating to tell you the truth. So last Friday, six thirty in the morning, she gets a phone call. From a neighbor that she didn’t really know very well, say, hi. Is this Lisa? I have Lucy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:25
    And I’m like, I’m sorry. What? And she says, is he alive? Does he have frostbite? What apparently happened was that another neighbor who lives like two doors down had seen this little black thing huddled in the bushes up against the house.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:40
    And she called me, and it was pitch blackout. And she said, Abby, I think it’s that puppy. That you’ve been talking about that everybody’s been looking for. And I was like, are you sure about that? And so they said, you know, I’m gonna have to, you know, figure it out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:54
    I mean, it might be a coyote or something. That they they rush over with a towel hoping to lure Lucy in and Lucy at apparently, this little tiny puppy Okay? Who had been, like, days out in this cold had dug herself a little hidey hole in the wall against a brick house. And she didn’t she didn’t move. She didn’t move.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:15
    They came up, and they were able to coax her out, put the towel around her. And you know what, Ben? She’s okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:22
    And that’s a metaphor for all of us. We’re out there in the cold. The windchill is dropping. And we’re gonna be okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:31
    Well, it’s because, you know, the community still exists. You know, we think of ourselves as being so atomized, you know, but in this newspaper article, you know, it talks about all the people who are out there, you know, the police department, the humane society lost dogs of Wisconsin, social media posts, church groups, all out there looking for that one little puppy. And none
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:50
    of them turn into rhinoceroses. You know, they don’t.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:53
    And so I wanted to start this because we’re going into what is going to be a very, very long year, very, very long slog that Will Saletan have on display the worst of human nature, you know, the worst of American culture. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:10
    Thirty seven bleats attacking the woman you attacked. Kind of stuff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:15
    Yeah. So I figured that a guy who has a newsletter called dog shirt daily, that you are the only person that would actually understand this moment and what it means for us here in the frozen tundra.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:28
    I think that’s right. Not that I’m only one, but that that was, I think it’s a great thing and maybe we should have a Lucy shirt.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:35
    We could have a Lucy shirt with a little puppy. Alright. So Donald Trump, and you can’t make this stuff up. He’s already lost the Eugene Carroll case. I mean, the judges found that he actually raped her.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:45
    And yet Donald Trump appears obsessed about it, I go back and forth on all the people who think, there is this genius you do not appreciate that here is somebody who knows how to manipulate the criminal justice the system. And then on the other hand, there’s this ranty rapist who cannot control himself. I struggle to come up with the upside of going into court, a court that is gonna decide whether you not only have defamed, but you have redefined your sexual assault victim. And then putting out thirty tweets attacking her. Your thoughts about that weird moment.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:21
    Well, so there’s no advantage to that in the justice system. Right? So you’re gonna infuriate the judge. You’re going to whatever incremental decisions he has to make are likely to go against you just based on your conduct. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:40
    If he has judgments to make, if he has jury instructions to give.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:44
    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:45
    So within the four corners of the case, There is no advantage to behaving this way. One question is whether there’s a reptile brain strategy here or whether it is just flailing anger, if there is a strategy, it is a strategy about the political environment that surrounds the case, not the case itself, that the the calculation must be okay. This was a five million dollar judgment against me the first time maybe it’ll be a thirty million dollar judgment against me this time, but however much extra it is for my behaving this way, it is important for me to show my constituency that I’m, you know, the eight hundred pound gorilla who pounds his chest and admits nothing and doesn’t care the implications legally for me. I’m just telling it like it is. I think the show is for voters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:46
    I think that’s clear. And it’s also clear how important it is going to be for this to become now a litmus test for the Republican Party. The old news is the Republican Party capitulate to supporting Donald Trump. The new twist is they not only have to capitulate. They have to mirror and they have to mimic everything he says including about a woman that he raped.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:06
    So, for example, at least Defonic this week, as part of her audition to VP is asked about this And she, of course, knows that she has to also attack you, Jean Carroll. It’s all fake. It’s all a witch hunt. So They all now have to have an opinion on it, and it must align exactly with what Donald Trump says about it. So he has made this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:28
    A centerpiece of his loyalty test in the Republican Party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:33
    Even Nikki Haley, who is actively running against him, can’t bring herself to say there is no reason to disbelieve this woman. A court has found her account credible, his behavior, to be sexual abuse and defamation. I mean, even she can’t bring herself to speak the obvious facts of what the court has found and what the judicial process has determined, you know, she keeps saying things like I don’t follow the specifics of the case in a fashion that you know, you would think this would be, you know, something that a person running against him in a primary would if not necessarily want to talk about, at least not run away from.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:22
    I wanna get back to the Trump trials in a moment, but I also wanted to to get your take on the, Supreme Court decision on the border. This is not a specifically Trump’s centric decision, but it was awfully interesting. The court ruled five to four on behalf of the federal government, which has basically been pushing back against Texas, putting these the barbed wire on the fence. And it has a lot to do with the relationship between the federal government and the states and the supremacy clause. The Biden administration won lot of people’s eyebrows were raised that he only won five four, but what I also think is equally interesting now is listening to governor Abbott in Texas, and just this morning, Governor DeSantis in Florida, suggesting that their interpretation of the constitution is the federal government does not have the ability to tell states how to defend themselves against a foreign invasion, which strikes me as kind of a throwback to debates that we had many, many, many years ago that I naively thought had been resolved in the US civil war.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:24
    So Give me your sense of the state of play here, Ben.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:29
    So it has vague overtones of the nullification Yes. Christ in the in the eighteen twenties and thirties, but the Supreme Court has allowed the Biden administration to remove this razor wire that Governor Abbott has put in place. What Ron DeSantis has anything to do with any of this I don’t know, Florida isn’t at the end of the day, state with a border with Mexico that migrants are coming across But, he loves to sort of inject himself into, like, sort of pretend that Florida has border with Mexico.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:05
    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:05
    The order technically doesn’t prevent Florida or prevent Texas from putting up more wire. But, you know, the rhetoric is definitely getting into this land of, is this Texas’s border or is this the United States’s border? And, you know, we have an answer to that as a country, which is that it is, yes, it is the border of Texas, but it is also the border of the country, and the border of the country is the responsibility of the federal government. Now I do have some sympathy for border state governors who are in an impossible position right now. And you know, the federal government and congress, in particular, is not addressing the rather exigency situation that they’re facing, but the answer to that, it cannot be to put migrants in serious danger by putting up razor wire in the water where there are children and I don’t pretend to know what the right answer to this problem is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:13
    It’s a and by the way, you know, there’s a lot of discussion of that in the Senate in the context of a compromise over over the emergency supplemental funding. So, like, I don’t wanna oversimplify it, but The answer cannot be state defiance of federal authority at the expense of cutting migrants. That’s the wrong answer.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:37
    Okay. So, this is gonna be a digression from the legal cases because you did just mention on the negotiations going on about the border. Up until the last twenty four hours, there was a lot of hope that they were gonna come up with a compromise on all of this. And looks like Mitch McConnell is now bowing to Donald Trump. So Republicans who have been saying that there is a crisis of the border, urging crisis of the border, were this close to basically getting one of the most conservative bills ever and have decided they would rather have it as an issue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:04
    And as a result, they are not only not going to fix the border. You’re holding up the Ukrainian flag there. It does appear that America’s abandonment of Ukraine feels like it’s imminent now, Ben. Mean, I don’t wanna be too dark here, but they have decided that they don’t wanna fix the problem. And if it means that feeding Ukraine to Russia, is the price for that, then it’s just collateral damage to their twenty twenty four election agenda.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:32
    This is a shameful, shameful moment for Mitch McConnell, and for the Republican caucus more generally. And I wanna focus on McConnell because He so clearly knows better.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:46
    He knows. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:48
    He has been a stalwart supporter of Ukraine. Look, he and I, we have our differences. I’m not a fan of Mitch McConnell, but until today, I would have always said, but he’s been an important rock on Ukraine and he’s really restrained his caucus in important ways. And what he said yesterday is we capitulate to Trump’s electoral interests. And he said it pretty baldly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:20
    And so if you translate McConnell’s, we don’t wanna undermine Trump on the border language into English. What he means is we’re gonna give up on reaching a compromise on the border at the expense of the Ukrainian for Trump to have this as an electoral issue. I really hope beyond hope maybe that at least kept him up a little bit last night that he tossed and turned in bed thinking, you know, how many ukrainians have to die so that Trump has this electoral issue. It will not be a small number. The Ukrainians are short on ammunition, and we are out of money to continue resupplying them.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:06
    The administration was not lying or bluffing when it said around the turn of the year. The money was gonna run out. It has run out. And there are a variety of European countries that are stepping up in relatively small ways to address that But nobody has the material that we do. Nobody has the size of a defense budget that we do.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:31
    And, you know, this is what Putin has been waiting for. And Mitch McConnell kinda earned his Moscow match nickname. Yesterday.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:42
    We could devote the entire program to this and to the implications for the world, for Europe. It’s one of those things where they politics can feel very, very small and petty, but the historic ramifications could be so great, including the message of sends to China about Taiwan and Again, Donald Trump has sent very, very clear messages about that as well. Okay. So deep breath and legal wonk alert here. We’re waiting on what’s going to be this really, you know, major argument and decision of the US Supreme Court about whether or not the fourteenth amendment, section three disqualifies Donald Trump as an insurrectionist.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:21
    You know that I am a skeptic, what the court is going to do, But one of the arguments that the court might seize upon. I don’t know, but we’re getting a lot of of attention is this one argument that section three which says that if you’re an insurrectionist, you are barred from any office of trust in the United States, does not apply to Donald Trump because he was not an officer of the United States within the meaning of the constitution. If the Supreme Court wants to sort of dodge this, or not apply section three, it could just rule that Trump is not an officer of the United States. I mean, this is kind of the the weeniest out, but it is there. And it’s what the the trial court judge in Colorado used.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:03
    Now Roger Parloff has been this very, very detailed piece. And, by the way, judge Michael Ludwig, who was so impressed about it that he showcased, Rogers’s work on Twitter, and he and he calls it basically Parloff’s Amicus brief to the Supreme Court. So One of the things that Roger does is he cites a two thousand fourteen concurrence by the late Justice ensign Scalia. In a private letter, he wrote shortly after explaining the concurrence, believing that, of course, the president was an officer of the United States for constitutional purposes. So can you give me the thumbnail version of this?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:38
    Because I think it’s a ludicrous argument, but but it’s going to be made seriously. And if the court wants to dodge this, this might be the thing that it hinges on. Right? So
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:48
    Okay. So first of all, I don’t think it’s a ludicrous argument. I think it’s the best argument that the trumpest forces have. It is the argument that prevailed at the trial court level in Colorado, where the judge ruled Yes. There was an insurrection.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:07
    Yes. Trump engaged in it. And, yes, it’s ridiculous that the Section three disqualification provision doesn’t apply to the presidency. The presidency isn’t an office of the United States. Or the president isn’t an officer of the United States, but that’s actually how I read the constitution.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:27
    And this argument has been advanced most fulsomely and over the longest period of time by two scholars Seth Barrett Tillman and, Josh Blackman, by the way, who have been advancing this argument for longer than the current dispute over section three has been going on. I don’t wanna sound like I’m accusing them of having adopted it for political reasons. They’ve been arguing this for years. And back in two thousand fourteen, justice Scalia had occasion to write a concurrence in this famous appointments clause case, NLRB Canning, And he wrote in the concurrence that an analysis of the president as officer of the United States and the presidency as an office of the United States, that seemed to adopt the opposite view that Professor Tillman had. That is that the president is an officer of the United States.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:31
    And so Professor Tillman being a inquisitive sort, wrote Scalia a letter and said, Hey, what did you mean by this? And Scalia writes back. I don’t have the letter in front of me. I meant exactly what I said. And so Roger points out that and by the way, several current justices were on that concurrence.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:54
    Including, believe the chief. And so Roger’s point is and I think it’s a compelling one that several justices including the great originalist, you know, himself, or textualist, Anton and Scalia did not read the appointments clause in the fashion that professors Tillman and Blackman now urge for purposes of section three disqualification. That is they saw the president as an officer of the United States. Look. I mean, the fact that Justice Scalia thought that Tillman and Barrett were wrong doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it is an interesting piece authority, and it is an interesting piece of authority that, like, to his credit, Professor Tillman wrote him a letter and inquired after, and Scalia faced with that, stood by his understanding of it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:51
    I actually have the letter here. Dear mister Tillman, I meant exactly what I wrote, the manner by which president and vice president holder offices is provided otherwise by the constitution as is the manner by which the speaker of the house and the president pro tem of the Senate hold there sincerely, Antonin Scalia, pretty just, you know, flat out there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:09
    It is not dispositive as to the who’s right question, but it is a really interesting data point. And it shows, I think, in Professor Tillman’s to his credit that this is a position he’s held for a long time, and it’s, it’s a sincere position, but it also shows that Justice Scalia and maybe three of his colleagues rejected it. Will that sway the justices in the coming? Probably not But is it a really interesting data point? Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:41
    And is it one of those moments where you are very proud to be the editor of Law Fair where you have reporters and analysts who notice these things and, the ability to write them in the kind of wonky length and detail that Roger did here. Yeah. It’s one of the reasons we have law fair and that it exists and that we’re all very proud of it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:03
    And for which we are all grateful. And by the way, those three justices that you mentioned, so we have Scalia regarding the president and officer of the United States. And the suggestion here is that Roberts Thomas and Elito, who joined in that concurrence, agreed with him. Now, again, that was then. This is now we can’t do one of these podcasts without also discussing Alexander Hamilton or at least citing Alexander Hamilton.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:26
    Hamilton also seemed to think. That the president was an officer under the constitution. Correct?
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:33
    Yes. And Roger provides some interesting evidence of that from federalist sixty seven, that evidence is more technical because it actually involves an inference from a sentence that is actually about senators. But the argument that Tillman and Barrett are advancing is a serious one. I think it is probably the most likely basis on which if the court wants an off ramp, it is probably the best off ramp.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:02
    Interesting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:02
    But the point of Roger’s piece is that it is not without significant flaw. And there are serious problems with it. And the argument on the other side, which has been advanced by Will Saletan and Michael Stokes Paulson, is actually very strong as well. So I think it’s a it’s a genuinely interesting issue, and I I wanna be respectful of the seriousness of the argument. But, yeah, this is one of the places that this Supreme Court case will turn on.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:36
    Let’s shift down to the Georgia case. Couple of developments there. There’s a new book coming out by pretty well known investigative reporters, Michael Isekoff, and, Daniel Clayton, that reveals that Lindsey Graham threw Donald Trump under the bus before the grand jury investigating election subversion in the Georgia case. This is from, Politico. The authors also report in the book, which is coming out next week.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:00
    That, Lindsey Graham after fighting a four month legal battle all the way to the US Supreme Court to block that subpoena and then losing that Graham turned on a dime. The Graham reportedly told the grand jury that if, quote, you told Trump that Marsians came and stole the election, he’d probably believe you. Unquote, he also He also suggested that Trump cheats at golf. So, you know, just when you kind of feel you’ve plumbed the depths of the depths of Lindsey Graham comes up with something new, you know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:33
    Yeah. So this is more a quest and ultimately for Will Saletan and his role as Lindsey Graham psychiatrist than it is for me. I will say Lindsey Graham is one of the most remarkably unprincipled human beings in American politics and everything you think you understand about there being some core to which he’s true turns out to be Bulwark. But then you put him in a room where he’s protected by grand jury secrecy at least until somebody probably him violates that secrecy. And he knows that he’s a corrupt actor, and he spills his guts.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:21
    And I do think somewhere in there, he knows that he is aiding a very, very evil person and that he’s doing it for reasons that the closer you get to, you know, a confessional and a grand jury room is you know, there’s twelve people there or or twenty three people there, not just one priest, but it’s kinda like a confessional in other ways, including the silence. Right? And all of a sudden, you know, the awareness that he has sinned very greatly comes to the surface.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:01
    Well, there’s a couple of dazzling details in this book that, of course, as we know, the Fulton County D. A. Fony Willis did not charge Graham, but the authors right about this this little episode. We’re to Lindsey Graham. Thanks, Bonnie Willis, in the hall for the opportunity to tell his story.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:17
    According to the book, He tells Will Saletan was so cathartic. I feel so much better. And then he hugged her. And Willis’s reaction, she was like, whatever dude according to one one one witness of the strange encounter. So, Wow.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:35
    That’s that’s, you know, it big if true, but again, maybe one impact on the case. But another little, you know, episode in the psychology of Lindsey Graham. Okay. So since we brought this up, we did not really address the allegations against Fanny Willis last week. We may not this week, but the judge has now ordered to hearing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:53
    Your thoughts, people are wondering, is is this going to be the end of the Fannie Willis case, these allegations, other media are stepping forward, New York times, stepping forward, that this special council she appointed Jonathan Last bought airfare tickets for trips with her to San Francisco, And the allegations that she may have benefited financially from relationship with Wade, of course, don’t change the underlying allegations in the case against Trump and the eighteen others, but Where are we at on all this? Alright.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:24
    So first of all, Fanny Willis’s brief in response to these allegations is due on, I believe, the first or the second. I can’t remember which. The hearing is a week or so after that. And so We still haven’t don’t have a formal response. That said, we do have some material that was unsealed from mister Wade’s divorce proceedings, which include these credit card records showing appearing to show that he, took Fanny Willis on vacation.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:57
    This is most unlikely to derail the case. It is not unlikely in my view to derail Nathan Wade’s participation in the case that you could imagine easily him stepping aside as some people have urged him to do you could imagine him also being disqualified, particularly if it looks like he has been in any way kicking back money to her that he earned on the case. The less likely possibility is that it could disqualify her and with her the entire office, in which case the case would have to be reassigned to some other office to handle I think that’s unlikely. I have not seen any evidence that, you know, she is involved in any kind of a kickback scheme. The most that we’ve seen evidence of is that she’s having a relationship with somebody she hired who, you know, has among other things taken her on vacation.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:04
    And that is a terrible look and absolutely not best practices. But I don’t think that’s gonna derail the case or cause her to be disqualified. The thing that could change that is if the financial arrangements look more corrupt than him paying for her to go on vacation with him with money he legitimately earned. And I think we will have a better sense of that after the hearing in early February. I don’t think based on what we know now, that we should expect either of them to be disqualified.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:46
    Although, I do think it would be wise for him to not be involved in this case going forward.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:54
    I think that would be the intelligent wise and prudent thing to do. So Ben, what else should we be watching for? We’re still waiting on the DC Court of Appeals ruling on the immunity motion. I think a lot of us thought this might have come down by now Do we read anything into the fact that we haven’t seen it yet?
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:10
    I think we do, actually. I think we read into it that it either is not unanimous. Or that the judges think that there’s some negotiation that had to happen to keep it unanimous. I’m surprised it has taken this long. The judges, you know, had a lightning fast briefing and argument schedule, and they were
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:32
    Very cognizant of the need for speed here too. So that’s Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:36
    Yeah. Exactly. A lot of people including me were expecting it to happen significantly faster than this. So I assume it’s reached some kind of a hiccup And whether that’s a small hiccup of the kind that requires graceful writing or whether it means that somebody is writing a protracted dissent or concurrence, which in this context would be a kind of memo to the Supreme Court. I really don’t know, but I do think it’s a surprising development.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:05
    It is also a development importantly that affects the timing of everything else that happens this year. And the reason is this trial was scheduled for March fourth. It is clearly not gonna happen on March fourth. And the New York trial is scheduled for the end of March for March twenty fifth, I believe. So if you push this back, you probably interfere with the New York trial.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:35
    You’re talking about the hush money case? Exactly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:38
    Yeah. Which then has implications for when judge Cannon, if she ever decides to have a trial in the Mar a lago documents case, what dates are available for her, and that in turn has implications for what dates are available for Fulton County. And so if you are hoping for as many trials to take place as I am before the election as possible. It is really important, you know, that we free up the DC case, which is other than New York the most advanced and including New York by far the most important of the cases, to proceed in a timely fashion. And so, you know, all eyes on the DC circuit, and a lot of things are held up pending their adjudication of this matter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:32
    Okay. So this I completely forgotten about this. Until I saw a tweet, whatever they’re called now from Andrew Weisman, last night. It looks like it’s, like, sixteen hours ago, saying, once again, where is the special counsel her report on Biden classified docs. You remember there was a special council appointed to look at Biden’s, which, of course, is nothing like the Mar a Lago case.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:56
    But it’s we don’t have it yet. And then Andrew Weisman says, will he pull a comey and delay the release to a time that will hurt the most and make extraneous statements outside of his mandate, the delay is pretty unconscionable. Again, that is not even on my radar screen, or I don’t think it’s on the most radar screens, but
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:15
    I disagree with Andrew about this pretty completely, actually. Okay. We got some news stories a number of weeks ago that he was wrapping up. And, you know, I don’t think anybody serious ever expected charges to arise from mister Hur’s investigation. There was no evidence that Biden was even aware of classified material that was retained following his vice presidency.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:43
    And so there is guidance in the special council regs about what the nature of mister Hur’s report is supposed to be.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:53
    We’re at Trump appointee. Right? He’s a Republican. I mean, I want people
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:56
    he’s a Republican and a former, a very good reputation. Okay. And and that report, by the way, goes to the attorney general, you know, not to the public, and I assume that Merrick Garland will make it public at some point. So the inference that this is long overdue strikes me as wrong. It’s only been a few weeks since we got the news story that he was wrapping up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:20
    And by the way, the inference that he is writing something judgmental and inappropriate in this report just seems to me made up. Have a lot of respect for Andrew Weisman, but I don’t think of this report as either late or inappropriate. It seems to me we should be expecting it at some point, not too long from now. And I assume it will be done professionally.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:47
    Alright. Well, we have a lot to go over the next couple of weeks, the next couple of weeks, the, the pattern is really going to be full. So I am feeling very fortunate, Ben, that you will be here as our co pilot here. So thank you so much.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:01
    We will be back next week, and we will do this all over again, and there are gonna be you know, there are gonna be Supreme Court briefs where maybe gonna have a DC Circuit opinion might set some trial dates. And, by the way, I should mention this every week. For those of you who dig the, Thursday Bulwark podcast, with law fair, please check out, you know, law fair’s own Trump trials and tribulations, which runs on YouTube live every Thursday at four PM.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:33
    Four PM eastern time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:34
    Yep. And runs as our Saturday podcast every week. We really nerd out on stuff like Roger’s article and the events of the week. So please check us out. We do it every week.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:49
    And no digressions about lost puppies in Macron, Wisconsin.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:52
    We sometimes have digressions on other stuff, but no never lost puppies.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:56
    You have to do that. Thank you all for listening to today’s podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes. We’ll be back tomorrow, and we’ll do this all over again. Bulwark podcast is produced by Katie Cooper, and engineered and edited by Jason Brown.
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