Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We’re going to bring you some more details about this shortly. But the White House’s position on the Porter background check was that it was an on-going process, so in key ways out of their hands. FBI Director Christopher Wray just confirmed that that is not true – that the check was mainly completed last year and that the file was officially closed in January, before any of the scandal broke. Here’s Dana Bash explaining.

As Bash notes, it was on the calendar that Wray would be testifying in a public setting. So all but certain he’d be asked about this and presumably wouldn’t lie, in an easily impeachable fashion, on their behalf.

I have thought for some time that we still have little grasp of the gravity and unprecedented nature of the challenge President Obama and his team faced during the interregnum between the 2016 election and President Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, 2017. The President had to manage a smooth transition and hand off of authority to the new President. Given Obama’s deep-seated institutionalism, doing this right was clearly an important personal commitment. At the same time, he and his top national security and intelligence advisors believed they had to be careful about whether information they shared with the President’s incoming team might be going to agents of Russia. Our system simply has no mechanism to grapple with such a situation. I want to refer back to this remarkable ‘note to file’ email from Susan Rice.

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In recent weeks we have seen a flurry of Fox News hothouse scandals which blow up for a day before collapsing under the weight of their own ridiculousness. Last week we had the story about how President Obama supposedly wanted to hear all the information about the Clinton emails investigation before it was clear that the date of the text in question made it clear it was about the Russia probe. Now we have some related but demonstrating a different tendency.

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At the outset of the Rob Porter scandal, I was baffled by the way this scandal seemed to be hamstringing and damaging the White House in ways few others have. This is not to say the Porter story isn’t bad enough. It’s plenty bad. It’s egregiously bad. But this President has had a lot of scandals that are egregiously bad. Set aside for the moment that there is every reason to believe that the President himself is a chronic sexual predator – a fact that now seems more or less accepted as part of the political firmament. This is a President who literally stood up for Nazis against anti-Nazi protestors. There’s a lot of competition for bad. Individual wrongdoing should largely be centered on the person in question. It doesn’t naturally attach to their coworkers or employers. But from the start, in this case, everyone around Rob Porter seemed compromised by his offenses – and not in random ways. His story, this ignored and covered up offense, has managed to expose and highlight all the failings of the President and his coterie – not simply their indifference to racism or gender violence but interwoven factors like indifference to the rule of law and personal loyalty to leader as the highest, indeed singular, value.

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In the chaos of the Trump Era, we are all forced to read tea leaves because nothing is transparent and nothing proceeds in an orderly way. We’re now a day after news broke that Rachel Brand is stepping down as Associate Attorney General, the third ranking appointee at the Justice Department. Given the possible effects on the Mueller investigation, there’s no end of speculation about why she’s leaving.

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