Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A few months back I got into a minor public spat about the failings of so-called “data journalism.” I erred to the extent that I spoke loosely about data journalism in general as opposed to misuses of it or sloppy and lazy uses of it, which the example I noted clearly amounted to. One might generally describe this abuse of the form as clever people using numbers to lecture people about elements of human experience the clever lecturing people either don’t understand or think their cleverness gives them a pass on trying to understand. One element of that example was a study that showed that mass shootings account for only a very tiny subset of the total number of deaths in this country from firearms every year. This is true (probably obvious to almost all of us if we give it some thought) and also largely beside the point.

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This isn’t new news, not a new revelation. But with more and more voluminous information coming in daily, it is worth revisiting the point. Whether or not the President obstructed justice recently isn’t a factual question. That one is 100% clear. It’s really a legal and constitutional one.

Here’s what I mean.

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We’ve discussed it many times. Most of us realize it: one of the great ironies, and perhaps tragedies of the “gun control” debate is that it has been backed into such limited and incremental policy prescriptions that those prescriptions can be reasonably derided by “gun rights” advocates as barely worth the trouble or hardly of any use. We know that no one restriction would prevent every needless tragedy. But together, a number of them, interweaving and compounding each other, would prevent or limit many massacres and bloodbaths. More importantly, this whole logic is not one we apply to any other problem of criminality or public health. Our entire counter-terrorism policy is based on no silver bullets but a series of traversable but still consequential obstacles, the aim of which is to disrupt, make more complicated or reveal conspiracies. We have collectively made it mainly too difficult to hatch plots to commandeer airliners or even effectively communicate to plan major operations at all. So radicals are reduced to largely ineffectual (but still often deadly) DIY kitchenware based bombs and trucks. That’s a good thing.

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As you may have seen last night, Michael Cohen, President Trump’s purported longtime personal lawyer, conceded that he did pay adult actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election. But there’s a catch. It was his money! Or so Cohen says. Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed him. “I am Mr. Trump’s longtime special counsel and I have proudly served in that role for more than a decade,” said Cohen in a statement released yesterday. “In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford. Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump … Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

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It turns out the Maine GOP got into the Nunes fake GOP news site racket even before Devin Nunes did. Check out our story.

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We’re going to bring you some more details about this shortly. But the White House’s position on the Porter background check was that it was an on-going process, so in key ways out of their hands. FBI Director Christopher Wray just confirmed that that is not true – that the check was mainly completed last year and that the file was officially closed in January, before any of the scandal broke. Here’s Dana Bash explaining.

As Bash notes, it was on the calendar that Wray would be testifying in a public setting. So all but certain he’d be asked about this and presumably wouldn’t lie, in an easily impeachable fashion, on their behalf.