Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Articles by Josh

According to CNN, the federal probe into Rudy Giuliani includes a counter-intelligence investigation. This news, if borne out, is a very big deal. It is also the least surprising thing in the world. As we noted earlier this week, Rudy has gone into business, literally and figuratively, with associates of the Russian election interference team from 2016. In some cases, they’re not associates but the same actual people. He wants their help to “prove” Russia and Trump were framed.

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Some closing thoughts.

First, I probably don’t have to tell you this, but a three hour debate with twelve people on the stage is a bad debate. More than exhausting it is not edifying or clarifying. There was a point early in the last half hour of the debate when the debate zeroed in on just Sanders, Biden, Warren and Buttigieg. Maybe not that exact four. A few others should be there. But that’s the debate we need.

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10:30 PM: Don’t miss our staff debate live blog here.

10:17 PM: I’m confused. Does Harris think she’s making a strong point here vis a vis Warren?

10:03 PM: I think Biden is doing better for himself in this debate than most people probably realize. But again, Warren just has a dynamism and command that isn’t matched by anyone else on the stage.

9:31 PM: A twelve person debate is an incoherent debate.

9:03 PM: I don’t know exactly how it will play politically or whether it will continue her rise in the polls. But Warren is simply operating at two or three times the speed and power of almost everyone else up on the stage. Sanders has receded far to the background of the debate. To a great degree, Biden has too. Biden’s answers have been clearer and crisper than in earlier debates. But he seems peripheral to the debate itself. Warren is setting the pace and everyone is reacting to her.

8:59 PM: Warren’s answer on being punitive or not was very good.

8:48 PM: I’m far from a supporter. But I think this debate could help Steyer. Clear, coherent, just very straightforward.

8:32 PM: Basic point people ignore. When your employer coverage gets replaced by a tax-funded M4A type plan, most employers are going to pocket the savings on premiums. So the idea that it will be a straight swap – premiums for taxes – just ain’t so.

8:29 PM: “Here’s the deal” is canonical dad talk.

8:25 PM: I agree with Buttigieg on M4A, at least on the politics of it. But, man, he really has a hectoring way of explaining his position.

8:12 PM: Check out our staff live blog of the debate here.

8:08 PM: Warren and Sanders decent; Biden a bit low energy; not sure what Booker was talking about.

8:03 PM: All the points Warren and Sanders are making are spot on. But people need to be clear that the key reason why it’s not enough to leave it to the next election is that President Trump is plotting against the election itself. He’s trying to prevent a free and fair election.

Here’s a very interesting article in The New Yorker. It’s based on a sit-down interview with Lev Parnas conducted by Adam Entous a couple weeks before Parnas’ arrest. It fills in a good deal of the personal story and I recommend it. But it must be incomplete: Parnas had been in the Trump mix for years. He got involved with the campaign early. After the election he got close with Rudy Giuliani. When Rudy wanted to get dirt to counter the Mueller probe, as Entous puts it, “Parnas volunteered to help.”

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Hovering around the Trump/Ukraine scandal from the beginning has been the fact that a lot of key national security, intelligence and diplomatic officials resign or get fired as the key events are taking place. They include the ambassador to Ukraine, the senior Russia and Ukraine policy maker at the National Security Council, the director of national intelligence and the deputy director and the national security advisor. I thought it would be help to work these into a timeline with the context of other major events that were happening at the time.

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There is a tone in a lot of the coverage of these Trump national security officials going up to Capitol Hill that is something like “This is or that legitimate grown-up is going to help us get to the bottom of this!” I thought of this when I saw the coverage today of Fiona Hill, former Senior Director of European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council, going up to testify. Perhaps she will be willing to help investigators get to the bottom of what happened here. But we should see someone who held her position as presumptively party to a criminal conspiracy unless and until we hear good evidence to the contrary.

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This morning I helped my older son work on a short school assignment about whether Americans should continue to celebrate Columbus Day or replace it with some holiday celebrating America’s native inhabitants. My own thoughts on this have always been muddled since we shouldn’t be wasting a national day of remembrance on Columbus even if he’d been a great guy. We have many actual Americans who should be put in or put back in the national pantheon.

The actual man Columbus had little conscious understanding of or much to do with the reign of horrors his arrival in the Caribbean rapidly brought in its wake. (The story of European colonization of America and the catastrophic demographic decline and subjugation of its native peoples is fundamentally a story of epidemic disease. Absent disease Europeans would have been equally cruel and rapacious but far less successful in their efforts.) Columbus was personally brutal enough in his treatment of the native inhabitants of Hispaniola to justify his currently awful reputation. And in any case, Columbus the man as opposed to Columbus the impact or the effect hardly matters very much since the entire issue is one of symbols and commemoration, which are matters of the contemporary world, rather than history.

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Contemporary Ukraine and Russia are filled with multiple layers of corruption and political intrigue. The totality of their porous and entangled relationship with each other and with the United States over the last 5 years is difficult to summarize or convey simply. But there are broad outlines that are critical to understand and take account of. To put it simply, soon after the 2016 campaign ended, Trump and Co went back into business with the same cast of characters from the former Soviet Union they’d been working with on election assistance and business deals through 2015 and 2016. Only now the goal wasn’t election interference. It was trying to prove the election interference campaign they’d both been part of had actually never happened. Perhaps ‘going back into business’ misstates the matter. It never ended.

The whole 2016 Russian election interference campaign was tightly connected to the events of 2014 in Ukraine – the overthrow of the Russia-aligned Yanukovych government, the Russian seizure of Crimea and the Western sanctions that came in their wake. The campaign was run by Russia but in large part carried out by Russian and Russia-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs who had lost out in the events of 2014 because they were allied with the Russian government and the business interests around it. Fast forward to today and we have a new scandal over the Trump White House using extortion to get the current Ukraine government to intervene on President Trump’s behalf in the 2020 election.

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