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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

This afternoon in Los Angeles Michael Avenatti’s former law partner sued Avenatti for breach of contract and failure to pay $2 million as part of an earlier settlement. Here’s our report with the lawsuit itself

We have another of those days where the rush of miscellaneous revelations tied to the Trump-Russia probe just keeps coming and the day won’t quit. The TPM Team has already covered the various stories emerging out of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of documents and interviews tied to the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. But a bunch more came late in the day.

Ronan Farrow reported on the source who revealed those Michael Cohen bank documents. It’s not just this person’s personal decision that is notable but the fact that he or she says two other reports have apparently been removed or hidden in the government SARs database. That’s why the person says they leaked the document — to call attention to these other missing reports. It’s really not clear where this lead in the story goes.

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We — and no doubt many other news organizations — are still working our way through the various new documents, interview transcripts and reports on the Trump-Russia story that were released today. There’s one small thread of the story that captured my attention. It comes out of Senate interviews and email records from Rob Goldstone, the British music publicist who worked exclusively for Emin Agalarov, the singer son of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov. It was Goldstone who notoriously set up the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer and government agent Natalia Veselnitskaya.

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The news about China and the Lido City project in Indonesia is a good moment to discuss something I’ve been thinking about more and more as the Michael Cohen pay-offs story has unfolded. The Cohen story turns on hundreds of thousands of dollars payoffs and “retainers” at a time. His story is tangentially related to those loans from father-in-law Fima Schusterman to that other taxicab family, the Shtayners. That’s over $20 million. The truth, however, is that most of these are relatively small-scale transactions. The dealings of the Trump Organization, now under the notional management of Trump’s two adult sons, but still owned by the President, stretch into the hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars. But we know virtually nothing about what is happening in its financial transactions even as the opportunities for corruption and self-dealing enrichment exploded.

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You probably saw the news yesterday that just days before President Trump tweeted that he was intent on saving that sanctions-busting Chinese telecommunications company, China had agreed to loan $500 million to a major Trump-backed development in Indonesia. These kinds of situations are now basically commonplace in the Trump Era. But it is important to look at them from a macro- and a micro-perspective. The details are quite complex in the latter case. We are still digging into them. But I wanted to give you a first sense of what we’re finding, because they make Trump’s connection to the operation and potential profits look considerably tighter than what I’d been led to expect yesterday from early reports.

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From the outset, there was little reason to think that North Korea would agree to surrender its nuclear weapons and the infrastructure and labs required to build them. If we set aside the never-very-plausible idea that the Kims are madmen intent on prepping some secular apocalyptic nuclear confrontation with the U.S., a more prosaic, rational strategy becomes clear: build a credible nuclear deterrent, thus making military-backed regime change unthinkable. Then reach an accommodation with the U.S. from a position of strength and fundamental equality. Such an agreement might involve restrictions on nuclear weapons development, limits on numbers of warheads. But fundamentally it would mean accepting North Korea as a nuclear power.

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