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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

There are two noteworthy articles out tonight, one from the Times and another from the Post. They are both of the ‘President is enraged about X and turning on Y’ genre which has become a staple of over the last six months. On that front, the kicker for me is a point noted in both articles but with more detail from the Post: with the White House figuratively burning to the ground around them, Ivanka, Jared and Melania Trump are pushing the President to solve the problem by firing Reince. Clearly, Reince Priebus is the problem. But the three specific, factual points I want to reference come from the article in the Times.

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We were all skeptical that Donald Trump Jr. would actually go on Sean Hannity’s show tonight. But he did. And I watched it. It’s sort of amazing to me that you can hold an interview like this and make no news. But they managed to do it. The questions were silly. Since Hannity didn’t really ask any questions, Trump really didn’t answer any. On the core issue of why he took the meeting after being told that he would be receiving information that was part of an effort by the Russian government to elect his father, Trump’s answer was something to the effect that it was the middle of a campaign, everything was ‘going a million miles an hour.’ And basically that’s just how it was. The whole thing was a bit jarring for me since I haven’t watched Hannity in some time. But you didn’t miss anything.

Nice understatement here from Gloria Borger just now on CNN …

And Don Jr. clearly has not been involved in politics. But he is an American citizen. And you get this kind of an e-mail from Russia – even though you know the people who are tangentially involved, because don’t forget you’re dealing with a family who the patriarch was involved in the Miss Universe pageant with Donald Trump. So there is a relationship there. But you get this kind of an e-mail and you should shake your head and say, “What are you talking about? And maybe we ought to get the FBI in on this.”

We will try to have something more detailed on this shortly. But CNN a short while reported that the blockbuster news of the last three days was news to the Special Counsel’s office. There was some ambiguity about whether they learned key new information from the last four days of reports or whether they knew this stuff but only recently from Jared Kushner’s and Paul Manafort’s disclosures. Regardless, the key thing seems to be this: if we’re thinking that the FBI/Mueller has known this stuff for months, that’s wrong. They didn’t.

Philip Bump at the Post just flagged this Trump speech from June 7th, four days after Rob Goldstone’s first contact with Don Jr and two days before the meeting at Trump Tower on June 9th.

Trump promises big news about Hillary Clinton’s crimes in a speech on “probably” June 13th.”

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Over the weekend, as the import of the Donald Trump Jr meeting became clear, but before this morning’s emails release, I started going back through my notes to piece together the timeline of events and whether they looked different in the light of the new revelations. And? Good guess! They look a lot different. For the moment, look at the timeline after the jump starting in April and running through August. That is the critical part. The critical addition of the Don Jr meeting fits right into a critical period when what we understand were Russian intelligence operatives were trying various vehicles to surface emails that were stolen during the spring. Look at the timeline after the jump – again, go ahead to April 2016. 

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There are countless things to write about this morning’s revelation. I was already at work on that revised timeline I mentioned earlier when this was flagged for me while I was in a cab coming back from a meeting. For now I will just make a single observation. Donald Trump Jr. began this engagement with Rob Goldstone on the basis of this message. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.

At a minimum Don Jr. and likely (though this is as yet unproven) all high level members of the Trump team knew about this more than a year ago. Ergo, all the total and aggressive denials about Russia’s role supporting Trump, law-breaking for Trump, etc. etc were all the most total and abject lies.

With last night’s report in the Times, I think we are officially past the point of the ‘was there collusion’ question. There was. The President’s son now has the barest argument that he tried to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton which he was told came from a Russian government campaign to help his father become president, only to find it was insufficient. 

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The New York Times has followed up with a third installment in its Don Jr series in as many days. I’m not sure there’s much to analyze. It’s pretty straightforward. When Don Jr was contacted about meeting with the Russian lawyer who had dirt on Hillary Clinton he was told that the dirt was part of a Russian government operation. He took the meeting on that basis.

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