THE BIG NEWS
Trump Cries: Help! The Communists Are Coming to Get Me!
By now you probably know that Donald Trump has been federally indicted not on seven counts, as news organizations were reporting Thursday night, but on 37 felony counts including Espionage Act violations and obstruction of justice for stealing and hoarding super-secret documents on his way out of the White House. In his brief public comments on Friday, Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith encouraged people to read the indictment in full. I second that advice, not only because it's an important historical moment blah blah blah, but because the indictment itself is highly entertaining, with moments of slapstick comedy straight out of a Coen brothers screenplay.
"Oh no oh no," one Trump employee wrote to Trump's personal valet and indicted co-conspirator Walt Nauta, after Nauta sent a picture message of a box of stolen classified documents spilled all over the floor at Mar-a-Lago.
After the government wised up to Trump's theft, he suggested that one of his former lawyers, Evan Corcoran, hide the documents from investigators by making "a funny motion...like, you know, pluck it out."
In another exchange, transcribed from a recording, Trump shows off a Pentagon war plan he admits is "secret information" and "highly confidential" as a staffer mumbles and laughs, presumably because their nerves were at that moment frying like bacon on a skillet. "See, as president I could have declassified it," Trump says, undercutting his entire defense. "Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret."
"Yeah," the staffer says, laughing again. "Now we have a problem."
Trump's former Attorney General, Bill Barr, certainly seems to think so – as does most of the U.S. legal and national security establishment. "If even half of it is true, then he's toast," Barr told Fox News yesterday. "I mean, it's a very detailed indictment, and it's very, very damning." Coming from a rather different perspective, national security whistleblower Reality Winner, who spent more than four years in prison, arrived at a similar conclusion. "This is probably one of the most transparent and straightforward indictments that defines national defense information and gives the public a sense of the itemized description of every document, which is not how this particular law has been used against ordinary citizens," Winner told NBC News.
Trump did catch another break in that this case was randomly assigned to a hack Federalist Society judge he appointed, Aileen Cannon. However, it's my opinion that Smith and the DOJ would not have brought these charges in Florida, as opposed to Washington, D.C., if they didn't have a pretty good plan for her potential spoiler role.
Trump, still traveling with his Diet Coke supplier Nauta, spoke at a rally in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday. He called the Justice Department "a sick nest of people that needs to be cleaned out," said Smith was "deranged" and the indictment a "joke." The GOP seems to see it that way: twice as many Republicans say their opinion of Trump has improved rather than diminished as a result of the news.
"This is the final battle," Trump said. "Either the communists win and destroy America, or we destroy the communists." He's encouraged supporters to come to Miami tomorrow for his first court appearance in the case; the Proud Boys will be there. Trump-loving Republicans, some in elected office, have already been calling for violence in response to the latest charges against their dear leader. My hunch is that at this stage, MAGA is more likely to go down with a whimper than a bang.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
The Stakes Are High in Ukraine's Counteroffensive
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed over the weekend that "counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine," but declined to offer details. The New York Times reports that Ukraine and its allies, including the U.S., remain unclear on what will constitute success in this phase of the military campaign.
Some battlefield success, whether by decimating Russia's army, claiming some territory or both, could help Kyiv secure additional military aid from Europe and the United States. It would also build confidence in allied capitals that their strategy of remaking Ukraine's forces into a Western-style military is working. And most importantly, such an outcome would build more support in Europe for some sort of long-term security guarantee for Kyiv and strengthen Ukraine's hand at a bargaining table.
Failure could mean reduced allied support going forward. However, Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin also faces risks, per the Washington Post. "The mood is very gloomy among the elite," one Russian political analyst says. "They don't understand what Putin's plans are and doubt whether he is adequately dealing with the situation." Finally, the Guardian reports that seismic data suggests an explosion destroyed Ukraine's Kakhovka dam; and the Wall Street Journal reports that German investigators think Poland, a NATO member country, was used as a base by the Ukrainian team that blew up the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, though "Poland's government was kept in the dark."
Florida Contractors Lied to Migrants Lured Onto Flights
The Los Angeles Times interviewed some of the 36 migrants who were essentially trafficked by the state of Florida and lured onto two private planes that took them from Texas and New Mexico to Sacramento, California, earlier this month. As with a similar stunt pulled last year by floundering fascist Florida Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the migrants were misled about the nature of the trip.
When a Venezuelan woman told the contractors [employed by the state of Florida] she didn't want to go to California but was trying to get to New York, one told her that "people in California" would book her flights to New York once she landed...
María worried that the mysterious contractors were drug traffickers — why else would they have a private plane? The contractor seemed to sense her nervousness.
"She told us not to be afraid — that she didn't want to steal our hearts or our organs or anything," María said.
A few migrants, suspicious of the vague and aggressive contractors, turned down their offer of "help." Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom calls the DeSantis stunt "a manifestation of the worst of the worst of humanity" and says his administration is examining whether the state-sponsored traffickers can be criminally charged.
- Nicola Sturgeon, Former Leader of Scotland, Arrested British police are investigating the misuse of approximately $750,000 in Scottish National Party funds. via the Guardian and BBC News.
- Interstate Bridge Collapses in Northeast Philly Steel girders supporting a bridge over I-95 buckled after a tanker truck caught fire; it's unclear if anyone was hurt. via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Biden Administration Official Says China Set Up Cuban Spy Base in 2019 The anonymous official confirmed the substance of an earlier Wall Street Journal report after the White House initially dismissed it. via the New York Times.
- 'Unabomber' Ted Kaczynski Dies in Prison at 81 "The circumstances of his suicide are unclear, and it is uncertain whether prison officials could have done more to ensure his safety." via the Times.
- Crypto Hucksters Fear Regulators Will Finally Put Them Out of Business One industry lawyer says "there is no question that firms have to take the view that crypto assets are securities and platforms that exchange these assets have to accept that." via the Associated Press.
That's how many times Teslas in Autopilot mode have crashed since 2019, according to a Washington Post analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. The crashes led to 17 deaths. Former NHTSA senior safety adviser Missy Cummings says the numbers show "Tesla is having more severe — and fatal — crashes than people in a normal data set."
ON THE SHOW TODAY
6/12: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma host nonfiction writer Alissa Quart to discuss her recent book Bootstrapped: Liberating Ourselves from the American Dream.
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