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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

One of the issues we’re going to cover in our Voting Rights and Democracy series is the issue of felon disenfranchisement. The Florida Phoenix recently published an article which reported that in mid-June an African-American, Erwin Jones, appeared before Governor Rick Scott’s cabinet to petition to have his voting rights restored. (The cabinet in this case sits as the Executive Clemency Board.) When Jones appeared before the Board, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis pressed him on how many children he had and “how many different mothers to those children?”

Patronis pressed another petitioner about his church attendance. Each of these men had committed felonies and at least five years had passed since their imprisonment and parole had ended.

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R), hit with multiple accusations that he knew about but failed to take action against a sexual abuser, just gave a hyper-aggressive interview to Fox News’ Bret Baier. First, this wasn’t your standard Hannity/Tucker-style Fox interview. Baier wasn’t antagonistic but he was deliberate and focused and pressed Jordan on the key points. Jordan attacked his accusers, particularly the first one who came forward, Mike DiSabato. But what was most revealing is that Jordan repeatedly fell back on the distinction between ‘locker room talk’ and formal accusations. “Conversations in a locker room are a lot different than allegations of abuse or reported abuse to us,” Jordan told Baier.

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The Trump administration is making some remarkable arguments in the on-going child/family separation cases, making it seem like they actually want to slow roll their way into making the separations permanent. As Alice Ollstein explains, the government says it needs more time to determine whether the “putative parents” (i.e., people saying they want their kids back) are in fact real parents (people with a true custodial relationship to the children in question) and further whether are fit parents. In other words, having used the criminal law to meet the very high standard required to separate children from their parents, the government is now arguing that it needs to apply a very high standard to give them back. The government is further arguing that it should not be compelled to reunify families in which parents have already been deported because of the difficulty of doing so.

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Over time, Donald Trump’s tax returns have been something like the great white whale of those obsessed with freeing the United States from the scourge of Trump Era corruption: critical, singular and yet seemingly permanently out of reach. The country has been collectively asking for them for more than two years. But President Trump seems to have simply gotten away with keeping secret the financial information without which it’s basically impossible to know whether he is using the presidency as a family profit center or committing more specific offenses like violating the emoluments clause of the constitution. It is also worth noting that we’re no longer just talking about the 2015 returns that were at issue during the campaign but the 2016 and 2017 returns as well.

As I’ve explained, however, the President’s tax returns are very much on the ballot this November. If the Democrats take over the House of Representatives they can and I suspect will subpoena the President’s tax returns and get them. Nor is this simply a matter of partisan score-settling. There is simply no way to conduct meaningful oversight of a President who insists on continued ownership of his private businesses without this information. So with that, here is how this can actually happen, the specific laws and House rules which would allow members of a future Democratic majority to get hold of the President’s returns.

The details of how it would happen are interesting and significant.

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There are now five former Ohio State wrestlers who say Jim Jordan knew about but took no action about sexual abuse by the team doctor on the University wrestling team during the time he was an assistant coach. (The team Doctor, Richard Strauss, has since died.) Jordan deserves due process and a presumption of innocence, despite giving those to no one else who has entered his crosshairs. In Congress, that means an Ethics Committee investigation. The accusations in this case precede Jordan’s time in Congress. And I think the House Ethics Committee’s purview may not extend to that. But from what I can tell there’s been no move to call for any investigation from Jordan’s Republican colleagues.

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The Pentagon has recruited lawful US residents into the military with the promise of a pathway to citizenship for their service. In recent weeks, the administration has begun discharging these recruits, often with no clear explanation and sometimes with claims that they are security risks or that they were recruited in error.

President Trump is insisting on meeting Vladimir Putin one on one, without any aides present, according to CNN. Trump appears to have a special affinity for private meetings with Putin. When the two met last year in Hamburg, Germany they met first with only Rex Tillerson present on the U.S. side. Trump and Putin later had an unscheduled meeting in which Trump met for roughly an hour with Putin and Putin’s English language translator. In other words, in the second meeting, no one from the U.S. was privy to what was discussed. The United States has no record or knowledge of what was discussed, other than what President Trump may have chosen to share after the fact.

In Helsinki, it appears (if I’m reading the CNN story right) that the two men will meet with translators, presumably one from each country. This is a little different. There would be one more person from the U.S. government: the translator. But a translator cannot be a notetaker in the same setting. So even though a U.S. translator would have some recollection of what was discussed, there would be no formal or detailed record.

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As you likely saw this morning, Michael Cohen continues to edge up to the brink of becoming a cooperating witness against his erstwhile boss Donald Trump. What do we make of this?

It seems clear that Cohen is ready to make a deal and ready to testify against Trump. He’s saying as much. He’s also ending his joint defense agreement with the President, which often signals that one possible defendant is turning against another.

But two points stand out to me.

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We know that President Trump routinely lies about the “diversity lottery” program run by the United States, claiming that countries choose their least desirable, criminal elements and leeches and then send them to the United States where they are unvetted and sent into the civilian population. We also know that every attack President Trump levels is in fact a projection, a pretended offense which in fact matches some actual wrongdoing committed by him or a member of his family. So with all that, I just learned this morning that we’ve finally found a criminal immigrant who was booted from his home country and foisted on to America: Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump.

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“Abolish ICE” is now taking flight as a Democratic rallying cry well beyond DSA and immigrants’ rights rallies. We have an on-going debate about “civility” among Democratic party activists and strategists. Through each of these developments and many others there is a recurrent refrain: If Democrats can’t avoid rhetorical excess and policy maximalism they’ll lose big time. There are even different flavors of the risk. Maybe it will just turn off Trump supporters. Maybe it will turn off moderate Democrats. You can’t win the Midwest with a platform that wins in the Bronx, etc. etc. etc. Any Democrat basically knows this conversation like mother’s milk. In The Washington Post, the headline of a column by a Never-Trump conservative reads “Outrage works for Trump. If Democrats abandon civility, it will backfire.”

Are Democrats really caught in this cosmic no-win situation?

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