The centrist political group No Labels sent a letter to the Justice Department last week, and it’s really something. No Labels plans to run a third-party presidential ticket on dozens of state ballots later this year (candidates to be named later) and mainstream Democrats really don’t like the idea. So they’ve been playing political hardball: filing objections to No Labels’ ballot petitions, conducting opposition research on potential candidates, telling operatives aligned with No Labels that they’ll never work in this town again, etcetera. That’s politics. Right? Well, No Labels says — in a letter signed by former senator Joe Lieberman and former governor Patrick McCrory, among others — that it’s actually a criminal RICO conspiracy to deprive them, their donors, and their potential voters of their civil rights, and they would like DOJ to prosecute some people over it.
As Ken and I discuss, the letter is a joke, even if it’s not intended as one. Politics is not a crime, and if No Labels had real claims to advance for deprivation of civil rights, they could sue instead of begging DOJ to do something. Ken’s big question is about the letter’s real objective: whom do they hope to pressure, and into what? I suppose the audience is the political operatives whom No Labels would like to back off, but as Ken notes, this isn’t a crew that is either unsophisticated or easily cowed, and they already seem to be laughing off the letter. So maybe sending it was just a dumb idea.
That’s the subject of this week’s free episode of Serious Trouble. Paid subscribers get much more — including a look at new developments in the divorce debacle that threatens to engulf Fani Willis’s prosecution of Trump and many of his associates under the Georgia RICO statute. If Norm Eisen has been reduced to arguing it’s not technically a conflict of interest if you hire your unqualified lover to prosecute an unusually complex case and bill hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process while he takes you on cruises, well, that seems like it’s going to undermine his brand as Mr. Ethics Man. We tried to warn you all not to put too many eggs in this basket.
The paid show also includes an update on the second E. Jean Carroll civil trial against Donald Trump in Manhattan, which has been going less than smoothly in Long-Suffering Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan’s courtroom. Partly, that’s because Trump’s attorney Alina Habba is not a good lawyer — and Ken has some stories about why bad lawyering usually works against you in court (but not always). We also look at Alec Baldwin’s latest indictment for involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico, and the evidentiary issue that is going to give the government a lot of trouble securing a conviction. And we check in on Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has given the attorneys in the January 6-related federal criminal case new instructions about what it means for the case to be on hold — even as we expect it to come off hold very soon.
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