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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The issue of presidential pardons raises an important issue with “norms”. I have written many times over the years that Presidents don’t use the pardon power nearly enough. The pardon power is archaic and in some ways hard to reconcile with our modern concepts of justice and judicial process. But mercy is an important element of justice. Indeed, without a role for mercy there can be no justice. There are many people rotting in prison who shouldn’t be there, even if they were guilty of the crimes for which they were convicted. In the past, the pardon was used sometimes for reasons as simple as managing prison over crowding. Sentences do not need to be sacrosanct. The pardon power is a tool to cut through the harsh indifference of criminal law and right wrongs.

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The D’Souza pardon affirms a basic point: the heart of Trumpism is not any policy but performative cruelty, inflicting maximum harm on those outside the tribal fold, and extending the benefits of power and the powers of state for those inside the fold. D’Souza is a loyalist so he gets rewarded with the prerogative power at the President’s discretion. The rationale isn’t legal. It is not in spite of but because of D’Souza’s racism and aggression. It is as simple as that.

As you could probably tell if you read my morning item on Gene Freidman and Michael Cohen, I was struggling to figure out how the Michael Cohen raids were related to the much sweeter deal New York State prosecutors offered “Taxi King” Gene Freidman after April 9th. I think TPM Reader JO’s explanation makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes so much sense I’m really kicking myself for not figuring it out myself. But you can’t win ’em all.

From TPM Reader JO

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This is a fascinating story from The Forward. Israeli has a new quasi-ministry called The Ministry for Strategic Affairs. It calls itself a “start-up” ministry and seems mainly focused on anti-BDS efforts, with at least some in Israel itself seeing it as a kind of rightist or pro-occupation political operation. But this story is about the fact that the ministry approached a number of top establishment Jewish groups in the US offering to fund anti-BDS efforts. Most or apparently all the groups turned down the money, though fundraising is of course a big deal for all these operations. The most immediate concern was that they would have to register as foreign agents under FARA – the law that’s gotten various Trumpers in hot water.

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There are some new details which shed a bit of light on what Evgeny Freidman (the New York City taxi kingpin) may have offered state and federal prosecutors to get his no jail time plea deal in his massive state tax-fraud case.

The details are as follows, as first reported last night by CNN. (For background on Freidman and his relationship to Cohen see this post from last week.)

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Here’s a question I’d like your help with. Some questions are so sprawling and broad there’s no better way to get started than to canvass TPM Readers. So here goes. One of Trump supporters’ zanier pushbacks has been this argument: In 2008 when Barack Obama was way ahead of the curve using the Internet to run a political campaign, it was treated as an example of how smart he was. When Donald Trump did the same thing in 2016, it was treated as an example of him doing something wrong.

That’s silly on a few different levels, since in most cases the discussions are about things the Trump campaign did that were either illegal or unethical. But I wonder if there’s something to it in this particular way.

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Okay, brash headline. But in addition to our subscriber-only Weekly Primers on Voting Rights and Democracy, The Battle Over Obamacare and the Trump/Russia Probe, we decided that we needed one just to stay up to date on the constant flow of scandals emanating from the Trump Cabinet, top White House staffers and basically everyone else Trump gets to appoint whether it’s EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, the un-leadered VA, the latest White House staffer fired for attacking someone or even the President himself trying to raise prices on Amazon because he’s upset with The Washington Post. So last Thursday we rolled out our newest Weekly Primer Trump Swamp, your weekly distillation of every key development over the last week in Trump administration corruption that isn’t tied to Russia.

Here’s is an absolutely fascinating piece that I recommend you read. It is one of those stories which is eye-popping in itself but also has a new dangling thread at every turn that just demands tugging. Let me try to summarize as concisely as I can a wild and detailed verging on tangled story.

Bruce Carter was a diehard Bernie supporter and a self-started adjunct of the Sanders campaign with a “Black Men for Bernie” campaign bus making the rounds and the case for Sanders. But the intensity and bitterness of the Democratic primary race followed by the revelations of the DNC/Wikileaks emails drove his enthusiasm for Bernie into a burning enmity toward Hillary Clinton. Enter Dustin Stockton, a Breitbart reporter who struck up a running conversation and courtship which eventually led to Carter rebranding as a pro-Trump advocate in August 2016. He hit key concentrations of African-American voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida telling African-Americans either to vote for Trump or not vote at all. How would Carter get the money? Stockton (and Bannon in the background) had well-heeled Trump supporters writing big checks.

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