Our Best Stuff From a Week of Indictment News

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner on July 28, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Happy Sunday! Have you signed up for our new newsletter, The Collision? It officially launched just this week, and boy, talk about impeccable timing. We saw an opportunity to take advantage of the unique skillsets of Sarah Isgur (lawyer, former Justice Department staffer, and veteran of presidential campaigns) and Michael Warren (a seasoned congressional and campaign reporter)  to cover an unprecedented story: a former president running for his party’s nomination while facing federal criminal charges. It’s a legal story, and a political story, and the two aspects are hopelessly intertwined. 

Little did we know when we chose Thursday to debut the newsletter that we’d be racing against the clock to get the first edition to your inboxes before the news of the day rendered it obsolete. Just as we were putting the finishing touches on everything, news broke that special counsel Jack Smith was meeting with former President Donald Trump and his lawyers. Smith, of course, had already indicted Trump on 37 felony counts related to his retention of national security documents. But this meeting was about a possible indictment stemming from Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions in the wake of the 2020 election. We wanted to get the newsletter out ahead of that, so we dotted the i’s, crossed the t’s and hit send.

Then we waited. And waited. And then reports came out that there would be no indictments regarding the election on Thursday. As it happens, that did not mean there would be no indictments at all. Late in the afternoon, an updated indictment in the documents case came down: Prosecutors added new charges to Trump’s indictment for retention of documents and obstruction of justice, and a new defendant—Mar-a-Lago employee Carlos De Oliveira, who is accused of seeking to delete security footage that the Justice Department had requested. 

While you shouldn’t miss Friday’s Morning Dispatch—Declan and crew even missed a Dispatch softball game to get on top of the breaking news—we also sent Sarah and Mike back to the factory to crank out a bonus installment of what we promised would be a weekly newsletter. (If you want to make sure never to miss any of their analysis, join The Dispatch as a member today.)

Mike and Sarah did a little Q&A, with Mike quizzing Sarah. Is this indictment “more serious” now? Will this delay the trial? And why didn’t they charge this stuff the first time around? You can find Sarah’s answers here.

Buckle up, folks. We’re in for a ride that will be long and winding, and probably a little bumpy in places. The charges against Trump are serious and the evidence that we know about is damning. He has a commanding lead in GOP primary polls, and—as we’ve seen in the past year—legal woes have the perverse effect of increasing support from his followers. 

That’s why we think The Collision will be so valuable. We’ll be able to explain the significance of the many motions and hearings that we’ll see, and we’re well-equipped to look at how the proceedings affect the campaign. And even vice versa. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so easily here

Natcons, Freecons, and the Centrality of the State

In this week’s Capitolism, Scott Lincicome departed—a bit—from his usual fare on tariffs, industrial policy, and the regulatory state to contrast and compare dueling manifestos from two different camps in the conservative movement. Last year, a group of national conservatives released a document laying out a vision for the conservative movement that elevates the state over the individual. Recently, another group of conservatives—including Jonah and Kevin—published a mission statement touting “freedom conservatism.” Scott notes that some observers have said the competing statements aren’t that different, but he begs to differ. He highlights the obvious contrast between the natcons, who expressly put “the state, not its people, at the center of the action” and the freecons, who lead off by “focusing on human beings.” And then he gets back to familiar territory: policy. “This distinction is not merely rhetorical—it drives big differences in how natcons and freecons approach and craft public policy, with the former taking a far more expansive—indeed, progressive—view of where and how the federal government may and should intervene on various policy issues,” he writes.

Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Russia hit several grain facilities in the Odesa region this week, and in at least one of those attacks, it used Iranian drones. Kevin points out that Iran is pretty much shooting itself in the foot here: Russia is targeting Ukraine’s grain supply to raise global food prices and coerce European countries into withdrawing their support for Ukraine, and “a combination of drought, sanctions, and perpetual economic mismanagement at the hands of its fanatical ayatollahs have left the so-called Islamic Republic on the verge of a food disaster,” he writes. Kevin notes that while Iran is subject to U.S. sanctions (for its malign nuclear activities and support for terrorism), that food and medicine are excluded. And he sees a solution: extend the sanctions to food. “If Iran is going to help Russia destroy the world’s food supplies, then let Iran be the first to pay the price for it.” he writes. “This isn’t to say that we should let the Iranian people starve—it is to say that we should do what we can to inflict enough economic pain to force Tehran change its ways or to destabilize the country enough to give the Iranians a chance to create a better government for themselves.”

And here’s the best of the rest:

  • A proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution that would guarantee legal abortion until viability will be on the ballot this fall. Audrey Baker looks at the specifics of the amendment and talks to experts about other possible statewide ballot measures.
  • If you thought disinformation on the internet is already awful, just wait until you see how artificial intelligence could exacerbate it. Is there anything we can do? Yasmin Green, the CEO of Jigsaw, a Google company, shares one concept her company is working on.
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell prompted concerns about his health when he froze up for 20 seconds during a press conference this week. Given that McConnell is 81, the episode prompted concerns from Nick in Boiling Frogs—and not just about the majority leader’s health. He’s also worried about what becomes of the Trumpfied GOP when the younguns take over.
  • How is Ron DeSantis struggling lately? Let David Drucker count the ways. Noting that DeSantis has fired staffers—including one who shared a pro-DeSantis video with Nazi imagery—and committed a gaffe by saying he’d consider appointing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to a position in his administration, he writes, “Many DeSantis supporters there are coming to believe the campaign is futile.
  • On Advisory Opinions, David French and Sarah discuss the legal woes of Donald  Trump—and also Hunter Biden. The gang also talks about Hunter on the Dispatch Podcast, but they save some time for the latest on the GOP primary. And don’t miss The Remnant, where Jonah relates a harrowing trip through the Alps during his trip to Europe. 
Comments (20)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.