Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

President Trump on trade, Crimea and NATO, per the pool report from Air Force One.

On WTO: “We’ve been treated very badly by the WTO…it’s a very, very unfair situation. When you look at the WTO, that’s where China emerged, when they joined the WTO. We have been treated very badly. We have lost many, many cases over the years…we’ve had minority judges..we’ve had a minority position in judges. WTO has to start treating the United States fairly because they have not treated us fairly.”

“I’m not talking about pulling out. I’m saying they haven’t treated us fairly. We have not been treated fairly.”

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We’re far past the point where it matters whether President Trump is a ignorant and destructive fool or operates as some sort of agent of the Russian Federation. The upshot appears to be the same. The Washington Post reports that President Trump has tasked the Pentagon with analyzing withdrawing US troops from Germany. Quoting the nominal explanation the Post was given: “Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO.”

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I have a whole backlog of posts to share with you – how to subpoena the President’s tax returns, the terribly run company Facebook and its impact on the news industry and a few other things. But my day hasn’t gone precisely as I’d planned. So more soon.

The Times has a fascinating article tonight on the Trump White House’s courtship of Justice Anthony Kennedy, building a relationship and rapport to make Kennedy comfortable retiring on Trump’s watch and ahead of the 2018 midterm election. One particular detail grabbed my attention: Justice Kennedy’s son Justin was the global head of real estate capital markets at Deutsche Bank and a key lifeline of capital to President Donald Trump.

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Let me briefly flag your attention to a Russia probe development which strikes me as highly significant. The information comes from a warrant from the Manafort investigation that we already knew about. But yesterday a version of the warrant with fewer redactions was unsealed.

There’s a lot there. But two key points stand out. First is that there seems to have been an additional $10 million loan which we hadn’t known about from Putin-aligned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to Manafort. Much more important, but related: the FBI has or had a source which told them that “Deripaska helped fund Manafort’s Ukrainian work when it began in 2005-06.”

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Some remarkable moments below from Rod Rosenstein’s testimony on Capitol Hill within the last half hour. It’s an exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan, former head of the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” which happens to be one of the most autocracy-friendly, anti-rule of law groups on Capitol Hill. The exchanges below are wild. They’re likely to take in a lot of journalists. But see them in the light of a broader overarching goal. All of these fights, all of these demands, this whole storm is part of a larger effort: defending President Trump from whatever Robert Mueller may find about what he, his associates and his family did. This could not be more important.

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about something that had been eating at me since Tuesday. Many of our assumptions about the course of the Mueller investigation are based on the premise or the backstop that Supreme Court will enforce the Nixon-era precedents about the rule of law and presidency. This seemed less clear to me after Tuesday’s decisions, though I didn’t return to that issue after yesterday’s news. I did last night at 3 a.m. The Mueller probe is the most immediate issue but it’s really just a proxy for our democratic institutions. I’ve said before that Trump is an autocrat without an autocracy. But he’s working on it and the question is whether there will be any check.

Looking through my email I found this from a former federal public corruption prosecutor …

I am deeply concerned that the Kennedy retirement will put the rule of law and our democratic institutions at graver risk than ever before. The President of the United States is the subject of a serious federal criminal investigation into (1) whether he conspired with a foreign adversary to help him win a narrow electoral college victory; and (2) whether he has obstructed that very investigation by, among things, firing the FBI director in charge of the investigation. The President will now be able to choose the person who, in a very real sense, may be the ultimate arbiter of whether or not he and others are ever held accountable.

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Understandably, it got little attention in today’s rush of news. But spare a moment for this. CNN had a short package of news on the now finalized plans for a summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. As the CNN reporter in Moscow put it, “the Russians [are] clearly showing they are in the driver’s seat on this.” Here’s short excerpt of video with John Bolton in a begging mode, insisting there’s no problem with the summit, while Russian state television mockingly says Russia elected Trump.

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I want to take the liberty of reprinting something I wrote 14 years ago, in December of 2004. The political and legislative context were quite different. This was right after the 2004 election after President Bush had announced his intention to partially privatize Social Security. Yet certain dynamics remain unchanged …

In politics as in life, victory or success is seldom entirely within our control. As we noted a few days ago, the Democrats can’t win this legislatively. They don’t have the votes. The GOP has the White House and solid majorities in both chambers. If they can hold their troops together, they can write the bill, pass it, and sign it into law before anyone gets another chance at the ballot box. But, as important as winning is in this case (and I’m a good deal more optimistic than many of my friends and colleagues seem to be), winning isn’t everything.

If Democrats have to lose this, they must be sure to lose well.

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