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John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

We’re all scratching our heads about the many contradictions in the New York Times’ bombshell report, quickly confirmed by other publications, on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s interest in using the 25th Amendment to oust President Trump. Here, in no particular order, are five early reactions from our team to details that emerged this afternoon.

  1. Rosenstein apparently didn’t know that his May 2017 memo, attacking then-FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Clinton probe, would be used as the President’s sole reason for firing Comey. That’s… ummm… surprising.
  2. Matt Zapotosky, who co-wrote the Washington Post’s article confirming the New York Times’ reporting (meaning, at the very least, the Post reached out to knowledgeable sources who said the Times’ story was accurate), tweeted that this story was an instance of “bad blood btw two current/former law enforcement officials spilling into view w/ potentially huge consequences.” It’s unclear who he means — potentially former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Rosenstein. Remember, McCabe is still facing potential criminal prosecution for allegedly being less than forthright in the DOJ Inspector General’s investigation of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe.
  3. The source of these reports is anonymous. But reports from ABC News and the Washington Post lean very heavily on McCabe’s contemporaneous memos as the source for these revelations.
  4. There is a limited pool of people who have access to the McCabe memos and who could be sources for these stories, including: the DOJ inspector general, other senior DOJ officials, prosecutors probing McCabe, McCabe himself, and McCabe’s lawyers. McCabe’s team denies it was the source.
  5. Trump doesn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting on normbreaking himself. This is an example of the ways in which Trump’s unprecedented bizarreness is causing damaging ripples through government. Others — in this case, apparently, Rosenstein — are reacting in ways that are themselves deeply damaging to institutions.

It is looking increasingly likely that we’ll get under-oath testimony from both Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about her allegations that he assaulted her during a high school party in the early 1980s. Blasey Ford’s attorneys are also maintaining their calls for a full investigation into her allegations, meaning we may end up with testimony from others who were there, such as Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge, or those who learned about the incident after it happened.

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“We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote in a letter, explaining why he couldn’t fulfill Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer’s request for an FBI investigation into her claims.

That’s technically true, Tierney Sneed writes, but glosses over the leverage Senate Committees have in asking the White House to order FBI follow up investigations. “Grassley was among the more aggressive users of that privilege,” one source told her. Read her full analysis here (Prime access).

Conservative writer Mark Judge, a high school classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who allegedly witnessed the teenage Kavanaugh assault Christine Blasey Ford, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee today through his lawyers. In the statement, he claimed “no memory of this alleged incident” and said he does not “wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents described in Dr. Ford’s letter.”

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Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday — a lifetime in Trump-era news cycles. Today, we’ll be trying to get a sense of how the GOP is thinking about these upcoming hearings. Here’s more on that, and other stories we’re following.

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President Trump appeared markedly restrained today when dealing with the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. His comments weren’t disinterested; instead, they seemed carefully scripted in a way that his responses to other crises in his administration — any number of developments in the Russia probe, for instance — have not been.

What to make of this?

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