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Trump Indictment Version 2.1
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Trump Indictment Version 2.1

Plus: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' latest grilling on Capitol Hill.

Happy Friday! A group of scientists published a paper yesterday finding that older mice lived six to nine percent longer after having their blood vessels hooked up to younger mice’s circulatory systems for three months.

We know we’re all in our twenties, but do not even think about it.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Federal prosecutors Thursday announced a superseding indictment in the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, charging an additional aide—Carlos De Oliveira—and issuing three new charges against Trump. The additional charges allege Trump ordered his original co-defendant, Walt Nauta, and De Oliveira, a maintenance worker at Mar-a-lago, to delete surveillance footage showing Nauta and De Oliveira moving boxes of documents after the first Justice Department subpoena seeking the records in May 2022. Prosecutors also added an additional charge of illegally retaining national defense information, related to the document describing U.S. war plans Trump allegedly showed aides in a recording taken at his Bedminster golf club.
  • Members of former President Donald Trump’s legal team met with members of special counsel Jack Smith’s office on Thursday, days after Trump announced he had received a target letter suggesting he was likely to be indicted in Smith’s probe of efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Washington, D.C. grand jury hearing evidence in the investigation met Thursday, but did not return any indictment. CNN reports that Trump’s counsel did not learn any additional information about the timing of any potential charges.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated Thursday that real gross domestic product—which is adjusted for inflation—grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2023, exceeding economists’ consensus expectations and the first quarter’s 2.0 percent annual pace. Consumer spending cooled in Q2 but was still strong, growing at an annual rate of 1.6 percent from March to June—down from 4.2 percent in the previous quarter—while business investment jumped significantly. The data was released one day after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank’s staff no longer views a recession as imminent.
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday greenlit an emergency request from the group behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline to move forward with construction. The project—championed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and supported by the Biden administration—has sparked fierce opposition from climate activists who have urged the White House to block it.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to send free grain to six Moscow-allied African countries at a Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg yesterday, days after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal last week, imperiling global grain supplies. Yevgeny Prigozhin—the chief of the Wagner mercenary group who launched a short-lived rebellion against the Russian regime last month—was photographed at the summit. 
  • The Senate voted 86-11 on Thursday to pass its version of the annual defense authorization bill, setting up a showdown with House Republicans. The legislation is broadly similar to the lower chamber’s version of the bill, but the Senate—which has a Democratic majority—declined to include measures passed by House Republicans that would limit the Pentagon’s ability to provide troops access to abortion and gender-related surgeries or hormone treatments. Republican senators also voted down a bid to amend the bill to reauthorize the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief for five years. 

A Few More Trump Charges for Good Measure

Former President Donald Trump. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Marv and Harry. Horace and Jasper. Splatter and Dodge. Greg and Tom. No matter which comically inept henchmen duos make your personal Mount Rushmore, you have to admit Waltine and Carlos have put forth a compelling case.

We’re referring, of course, to Waltine Nauta (a longtime aide to former President Donald Trump) and Carlos De Oliveira (an employee at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida). Although they weren’t quite texting one another things like, “Hey bro, just making sure we’re still on to do the crimes tomorrow,” they came pretty darn close—making special counsel Jack Smith’s job significantly easier.

The details were revealed last night—perfectly timed to prevent your Morning Dispatchers from attending an important softball game—in a 60-page superseding indictment that expounded on the classified documents case federal prosecutors first brought against Trump and Nauta last month. Thursday’s indictment didn’t contain the results of Smith’s January 6 probe—that’ll likely come later today or early next week—but it brought three additional felony charges against the former president, roped in a new defendant, and filled in some minor gaps in last month’s charging documents.

As we reported at the time, Smith and Co.—appointed in November to look into Trump’s alleged retention of classified material and his actions leading up to and on January 6, 2021—returned after seven months in the field with a fairly cut-and-dry case against the former president. Based on text messages, surveillance footage, and audio footage, we wrote that prosecutors “detailed a harebrained plot cooked up by Trump—and executed by Nauta—to keep dozens of boxes of classified documents and presidential records that ended up at Mar-a-Lago in January 2021 rather than the National Archives where they belonged.” Trump was hit with 37 charges—most related to his “willful retention” of national defense information and his obstruction of the government’s efforts to retrieve it—and the indictment included striking details about Trump’s lackadaisical approach to classified material, which in one photograph was stacked several feet high next to a toilet.

The scheme, if Smith’s latest filing is accurate, was even dumber than previously known. On June 24, 2022, Trump’s lawyers received a subpoena from the Department of Justice requiring the former president and his team to produce certain Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage as prosecutors sought to piece together where Trump kept his “boxes”—and when. Within hours, Nauta had received a text message from another Trump employee indicating Trump wanted to see him. The former president’s valet then changed his upcoming travel itinerary, making arrangements to go to Florida rather than accompany his boss on a scheduled trip to Illinois. When someone asked why, he texted them that he had a “family emergency” to attend to—but then added a 🤫 emoji.

As he was preparing to return to Mar-a-Lago, Nauta also reached out to De Oliveira (“Hey brother You working today?”) and a Mar-a-Lago information technology (IT) expert (“Hey bro You around this weekend?”). De Oliveira then also texted the IT guy—identified by the New York Times as Yuscil Taveras—to say that Nauta was arriving at Mar-a-Lago the following day and that he “need[ed]” Taveras for something.

What he “needed,” according to Smith, quickly became clear. Once Nauta reached the club, he and De Oliveira visited the security guard booth where surveillance footage was displayed before walking to the storage room where classified material was allegedly stored and pointing to the surveillance cameras they saw. The following Monday, June 27, De Oliveira approached Taveras, the IT guy, and asked to speak with him privately—and confidentially. He wanted to know how long surveillance footage was stored—about 45 days—and relayed that “the boss” wanted the server deleted. When Taveras said he didn’t know how to do that—and that he likely didn’t have the right to even if he did—De Oliveira reiterated the request from “the boss” and asked, “What are we going to do?” 

(Last month, CNN reported that the special counsel’s office was looking into an October 2022 incident in which a Trump employee drained a swimming pool and—intentionally or not—flooded a room where the servers storing surveillance footage were being held. The equipment was reportedly not damaged, however, and the event was not mentioned in yesterday’s indictment.)

Trump—who earlier this month claimed he had “quickly” provided the Mar-a-Lago security tapes to prosecutors when requested—was predictably frustrated by the development. “This is nothing more than a continued desperate and flailing attempt by the Biden Crime Family and their Department of Justice to harass President Trump and those around him,” read a statement attributed to the former president’s campaign. “Deranged Jack Smith knows that they have no case and is casting about for any way to salvage their illegal witch hunt.”

Other legal commentators had a … different takeaway. “The worst part of the case for Trump—obstruction of justice—just got even worse,” Advisory Opinions co-host David French said. “It’s not a substantially different case, but it is stronger (and it was already strong).” 

In addition to bolstering Smith’s allegations that Trump knowingly obstructed the Justice Department’s investigation, Thursday’s filing also made clear the DOJ believes it has the classified map of an Iran attack plan that Trump was allegedly caught on tape showing to guests at his Bedminster golf club—and that he has since denied ever existed. Smith also alleges Trump called De Oliveira in August 2022 to tell him he’d get him an attorney—hours after Nauta had confirmed with another Trump employee and a Trump PAC representative that De Oliveira was “loyal” and wouldn’t do “anything to affect his relationship” with the former president.

A few months later, that loyalty was put to the test. At the very end of the superseding indictment, Smith included the transcript of a voluntary interview De Oliveira conducted with the FBI in January 2023—after being warned that lying to agents was a crime. Over the course of the conversation, the Mar-a-Lago employee denied being aware of—or helping move—Trump’s boxes a total of seven times. “No.” “No.” “No.” “Never saw anything.” “Never.” “Never saw nothing.” “No.” 

De Oliveira is set to be arraigned in Miami on Monday, and whether those charges will prove enough to get him to flip on “the boss” is anyone’s guess. But even if he doesn’t, Trump is already facing dozens of charges—and several more are likely on the way in both Smith’s January 6 investigation and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. Did we mention you should be subscribed to The Collision?

Mayorkas in the Hot Seat

When Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas arrived to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, he faced an early test: Could he remember the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, which most of us haven’t regularly recited since grade school? Luckily for him, he passed—liberty and justice for all—but the recitation was just the first of many hurdles Mayorkas had to clear during his grilling by Republican members of the committee.

The contentious oversight hearing—which lasted more than five hours—ran the gamut of all the Department of Homeland Security’s various responsibilities, but GOP lawmakers zeroed in on what they have described as Mayorkas’ failure to secure the southern border. Encounters at the border are unexpectedly down following Title 42’s expiration—but key elements of Biden’s post-Title 42 policy regime are also facing litigation that could send the administration back to the drawing board. 

As we reported a few weeks ago, Mayorkas is facing intense scrutiny from House Republicans in particular, many of whom consider him willfully incompetent when it comes to border enforcement and believe he lied to Congress in April when he claimed DHS has “operational control” of the situation. Several representatives have moved to impeach him, and the House Homeland Security Committee in June opened a five-part investigation—now in its third stage—into his job performance. GOP Rep. Mark Green, the committee’s chairman, said at the start of the inquiry the committee would turn its findings over to the Judiciary Committee, but didn’t explicitly indicate the result would be impeachment.

Thursday, though, Mayorkas appeared before that same Judiciary Committee, led by one of the Biden administration’s fiercest critics: GOP Rep. Jim Jordan. Any articles of impeachment against Mayorkas will have to originate in the Judiciary Committee, but as Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was sure to point out, this was an oversight hearing, not an impeachment hearing.

That didn’t mean Jordan or his Republican colleagues pulled any punches. “This administration has abandoned any semblance of border security and immigration enforcement, Americans are paying the price and they demand accountability,” the Ohio Republican said in his opening statement. GOP Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana accused the secretary of being “the most dishonest witness that has ever appeared before the committee,” and Rep. Ken Buck told Mayorkas that, “when people die of fentanyl poisoning, it is your fault.”

Despite a letter from Jordan earlier this week warning him to be ready with specific numbers, Mayorkas offered very little concrete data on questions of interest to Republicans—like total deportations for the last two years of people who have not committed other crimes, or the current status of the 14,000 smugglers Mayorkas said in his opening statement Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had apprehended during his tenure. When pressed on specifics across several issues, he repeatedly promised his office would send the data to the committee.   

The secretary—whom Republicans also rarely allowed to complete a sentence—defended the Biden administration’s border policies oriented more toward order than deterring migration altogether. “Our approach of expanding lawful pathways is working,” Mayorkas said. “The challenge is a persistent one at our southern border, and has been for decades.” 

After months of chaos earlier in Biden’s term, the news coming from the border hasn’t been exclusively bad of late. Officials expected a surge of migrants following the end of Title 42—a pandemic-era measure that allowed CBP to immediately expel people crossing the border without permitting them to lodge an asylum claim and without formal deportation proceedings. Enforcement officials bracing for the worst assumed migrants—now more likely to be allowed to make normal asylum claims under the standard Title 8 authority and potentially be released into the interior of the U.S. to await a hearing—would flock to the border. 

But the surge never came. Officials recorded 206,702 total encounters at the southern border in May, and that figure collapsed in June to 144,571—the lowest level since February 2021. “Encounters,” in this instance, include migrants considered “inadmissible” for asylum under Title 8 and those who were apprehended between ports of entry. 

Why didn’t the post-Title 42 surge materialize? “A lot of people who are coming in April and May didn’t know what to expect after Title 42 ended,” David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, tells TMD. “And so there was this huge rush to get here while it was still in effect because the Biden administration was out there messaging that, ‘After May 11, we’re going to drop the hammer, we’re going to end asylum, we’re going to deport you, and we’re going to put you in jail.’” 

Title 42 also incentivized repeat crossing because those apprehended were simply expelled and not deported—a legal process that carries a penalty for recidivism—which inflated the number of encounters.  

Republicans—including Sen. Lindsey Graham, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who wrote a letter to the administration asking them to keep Title 42 in place—dispute the idea that the situation has improved. “The June numbers still show a crisis at the border,” Kevin Bishop, spokesperson for Graham, tells TMD. “Over 144,000 encounters in a single month is still extraordinarily high. The administration is trying to shift folks around to make the situation at the border seem less critical. It’s not.”

The Biden administration did put in place a selection of “carrot and stick” policies—many of which are now in legal jeopardy—to disincentivize crossing illegally between ports of entry. The new CBP One app, introduced in January, offers around 1,000 appointments a day to migrants to make asylum claims at official border checkpoints. Texas has already sued the Biden administration, alleging the policy encourages illegal immigration because the app doesn’t screen for people’s admissibility—and therefore, in theory, encourages them to come whether they have legal basis for admission or not. Immigrant advocates have also criticized the app, arguing it offers too few appointments per day and that it should allow migrants who may be in danger to enter case details to receive priority slots.

A “stick” policy—rejected by a judge Tuesday—made it more difficult for people who are apprehended between ports of entry to have their asylum claims approved if they have not registered on the app or filed for asylum in any country they traveled through before they reached the United States. Judge Jon Tigar—an Obama-appointee who struck down a similar Trump-era policy—said the rule violated U.S. immigration statutes, which do not include those additional factors as part of any decision to approve asylum. The ruling will not take effect for another week and a half, and the Biden administration has started the process to file an appeal. 

The DHS has also made expanded use of its discretionary parole authority—which may also be on the legal chopping block. Up to 30,000 migrants a month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela are eligible for humanitarian parole provided they have a U.S. sponsor, pass background checks, and arrive by plane. Twenty states, including Texas, filed suit against the administration in January, arguing the policy is illegal under the Title 8 statute, which requires that parole—release into the United States—be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

Opinions differ about the definition of “case-by-case.” Critics of the policy say grouping migrants by nationality means parole is not being granted based on individual circumstances, while advocates of the policy say CBP agents are still considering every person’s application despite the groupings. “Our parole authority is being used consistent with the law,” Mayorkas said, carefully sticking to the legalese. “It’s a discretionary authority that the statute provides and we exercise it on a case-by-case basis.”

One solution to all this legal drama is updating old immigration law to reflect current conditions—but let’s not get carried away. “Oh, I think there’s almost no chance [Democrats and Republicans find agreement on immigration policy],” Bier tells TMD. “We’re operating in a policy environment that’s free from facts and serving the political interest of one party pretty well.”

Worth Your Time

  • The left and the right do have something in common, Adam Kotsko argues in The Atlantic: They’ve both replaced legitimate cultural criticism with moralism. “When I was growing up in a conservative evangelical community,” he writes, there was a “fairly straightforward aesthetic theory: Every artwork has a clear message, and consuming messages that conflict with Christianity will harm one’s faith.” Kotsko—now on the left—is concerned his fellow progressives are adopting a similar approach. “Like most film and TV viewers, I read reviews because I want to decide whether or not to see a given movie or show, or else to think it through from a fresh perspective,” he notes. “For example, I note that Oppenheimer is very long—how is the pacing? Does it maintain a clear focus throughout, or does it indulge the common vice of biopics by trying to cram too much in? The type of critical literature that concerns me does not address such basic aesthetic questions, or does so only incidentally. Even more insidiously, though, the logical goal of such very narrow standards could be to create artwork that is straightforward political propaganda. … This style of criticism infantilizes its audience members by assuming they are essentially ideology-processing machines—unlike the wise commentator who somehow manages to see through the deception.”

Presented Without Comment

CNN: “Donald Trump’s lawyers want to be able to discuss classified information with the former president at his homes as part of his criminal case, for convenience sake, according to a new court filing from the Justice Department.”

Also Presented Without Comment

Reuters: Tesla Created Secret Team to Suppress Thousands of Driving Range Complaints

Toeing the Company Line

  • In the newsletters: In the first edition of our new newsletter (!), The Collision, Mike and Sarah check out Democratic strategizing ahead of Trump’s imminent indictment in the January 6 case, and Nick opines (🔒) on Ron DeSantis’ populist tendencies.
  • On the podcasts: Steve is back on the Dispatch Podcast, joined by Sarah, Mike Warren, and David French for a discussion of Hunter Biden’s plea deal falling apart, the latest twists and turns in the GOP primary, and … UFOs.
  • On the site: Charlotte looks into Ukraine’s struggling counteroffensive, Drucker has the latest on that DeSantis campaign “reset” everyone’s talking about, and Kevin wades into the debate about small-town crime sparked by Jason Aldean’s new country song.

Let Us Know

How do you think Trump’s Republican primary challengers can best use the former president’s legal challenges against him? Do you think any of the contenders is currently making an effective case?

Declan Garvey is the executive editor at the Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2019, he worked in public affairs at Hamilton Place Strategies and market research at Echelon Insights. When Declan is not assigning and editing pieces, he is probably watching a Cubs game, listening to podcasts on 3x speed, or trying a new recipe with his wife.

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.

Jacob Wendler is an intern for The Dispatch.