For all of the legal experts on TV and Twitter helping the nation understand a flood of ridiculous rulings by corrupt, rightwing, Federal Society-approved judges and Justices, it might also be helpful if they started pointing out the desperate need for structural change in our federal judiciary. We can't lawyer our way out of this mess, but we can reform it. But we're gonna need their help. One of those legal experts joins us on today's BradCast to help make exactly that case. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
First up, however, the Republican "Never Trumpers" of the Lincoln Project are back. And their latest ad is another doozie, pointing out how Trump's sleazy Save America PAC is little more than a "sucker's game" meant to scam his own supporters. "Trump told you the election was stolen to rip you off, to sucker you, to take your hard-earned money and shovel it into his pockets ... It was the biggest scam in political history. ... It was a sucker's game all along."
Apparently, Lincoln Project is running the ad on Fox "News" and it appears to be driving The Former Guy crazy. So much so that he's threatened to sue the Lincoln Project. And now the group's co-founder, Rick Wilson, is begging him to. We share the ad, Trump's pathetic (though hilarious) social media tantrum and Wilson's acerbic (though hilarious) response.
While Trump is unlikely to actually sue Lincoln Project --- and open up his corrupt Save America PAC to the discovery process! --- one of his most recent impotent lawsuits, filed against Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and bunch of other folks at the FBI and DoJ claiming a "conspiracy" against him regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election, spectacularly crashed and burned before a federal judge in South Florida on Thursday. It was a real judge. Not one that Trump appointed.
As to the federal judge in South Florida that Trump did appoint, Judge Aileen Cannon, who issued the absurd, unprecedented and completely unworkable order on Monday in response to the FBI's court-ordered seizure of thousands of government documents stolen by Trump and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the DoJ pushed back on Thursday night. On Monday, Cannon ordered an injunction against the DoJ's use of the stolen documents, many of them highly classified, in their criminal investigation of Trump's theft until a Special Master examined all of the documents for potential attorney-client and executive privilege conflicts. (There can be no executive privilege conflicts since Trump hasn't asserted it and, no longer the Executive, he is not entitled to any such privilege.)
In their filing [PDF] on Thursday night, however, the DoJ offered a compromise and an off-ramp to Cannon, before they otherwise plan to appeal her ruling in full to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals next week. Hopefully, Cannon takes the off-ramp to allow the critical criminal investigation and national security damage assessment to continue. But, otherwise, the DoJ may have a long slog before the appeals court which has now been packed with Trump-appointed judges.
All of this --- not to mention the unprecedented rulings by the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court majority at the end of their term earlier this summer --- underscores how broken our federal judicial system has become. And while there is no shortage of well-meaning legal experts on TV and social media explaining how best to respond to corrupted rulings by corrupted courts, these are problems that the nation cannot litigate itself out of, as our guest argues today.
We're joined again by the great DAHLIA LITHWICK, longtime legal analyst at Slate, MSNBC contributor, podcast host, and author of the new book, LADY JUSTICE: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America.
Writing this week with our other legal reporter friend from Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, in an article headlined "The Solution to the Trump Judge Problem Nobody Wants to Talk About" the pair reference the court battle over the stolen documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago: "The problem is not just the extreme and heinous flaws in Cannon’s ruling. It’s also the Trump-shaped world in which Cannon operates, with impunity, which we will all have to endure for the foreseeable future. It’s the brutal reality that we may face a steady stream of depraved decisions like Cannon’s for the rest of our lives --- and the pain of hearing from every quarter that nothing can be done to remedy it."
"There are too many things wrong with the Cannon order to litigate," they conclude. "And there are too many things wrong with Trump’s judicial dominion of every part of our lives --- for years to come --- to litigate. So maybe it's time to stop litigating them and start fixing them."
How to start fixing them? Well, that's at the center of my discussion today with Lithwick, beginning with the need for "big-swing structural reform" of our courts and how to start making the noise needed to help make it happen.
Also, we discuss LADY JUSTICE, Lithwick's brand-new book --- hitting "shelves" in just a few days --- which "knits together these stories of extraordinary women lawyers" who "faced unbelievable odds" and "changed the world in the Trump era". Now, she argues, "they could do it again."
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)