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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We have now heard about as reliably as we have to date that Bob Mueller’s Russia probe is ending very soon, as early as next week, and that he will then be filing his report to the new Attorney General. Bill Barr will then, at some point, release a ‘summary’ of those findings to Congress and presumably to the public. So, is the fix in? Is this somehow being shut down? Did Bill Barr, who only became AG last Thursday, shut this down on Trump’s behalf?

A lot of this doesn’t compute to me for reasons I’ll explain below. But I wanted to run through what I think are the key questions we should be asking and the range of possibilities we should see as possible explanations for this news.

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This is fascinating. Six days into Bill Barr taking over the Justice Department we have an announcement that the end of the Mueller investigation will be announced as early as next week with a “summary” of Mueller’s report released to Congress at some unspecified point in the future. Barr has made clear that he does not believe the DOJ can release negative information about people who have not been charged with a crime.

There’s one nugget in yesterday’s Times story which I think is being taken as – and perhaps was even written as – an example of Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s naïveté in thinking the Russia story had been put to rest with the firing of General Michael Flynn. Pretty clearly, though, it’s not an example of that at all. It’s a good illustration of something very different.

Here’s the passage …

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I’ve just been reading through the Times story that dropped this afternoon. You should definitely read it. The one big news break is the reference to Trump trying to get Matt Whitaker, former possibly acting Attorney General, to put Geoff Berman, US Attorney in Manhattan, back in charge of the various investigations of Trump and his associates emanating from that office. Besides that the real value is how it pulls together so many different strands of Trump’s campaign of obstruction now going back over two years. It ends with Bill Barr taking over as Attorney General. This brought my attention back to something I’ve discussed a few times in recent weeks: Barr’s own history trying to abuse his power as Attorney General in the final weeks before the 1992 presidential election on behalf of then-President Bush.

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Notable in this new Times story about Trump and Whitaker: Trump still appears to see getting Geoff Berman personally in control of the various Trump investigations in New York as definitely a good thing for Trump and even a pressing priority. Since asking Whitaker to intervene is clearly a big no-no, this secondary underlying point can be easy to miss. But it’s a key nugget of information.

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The connection between collusion with Russia and parallel and interwoven connections to the Gulf state monarchies has long been a central question of the entire Russia story. Clearly they’re connected. But just how and which is pushing which has always been unclear. Today this other Mike Flynn racket, building a bunch of nuclear power plants across the Middle East, is again back in the news with a new House investigation. But Tom Barrack – the chair of Trump’s inaugural committee, the guy who brought Paul Manafort into the campaign – is also again in the mix. And there’s one sliver of this story most people have forgotten.

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