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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It was reported on Friday that James Comey has declined to testify before the Senate unless he can do so in open session (and presumably only in open session). The motivation seems pretty clear: Comey wants his version of events aired in public and not kept under wraps or (the bigger issue, I think) subjected to the interpretations of senators who discuss the testimony with the press.

But this is a good moment to discuss a broader issue about Comey, which I think this illustrates.

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President Trump’s personal tax lawyers have now provided a letter, released by the White House today, which in essence says President Trump has no financial ties with Russia. There have been reports in recent days that the President’s tax lawyers were preparing such a letter, in part for Sen. Lindsey Graham. The letter is dated March 8, more than two months ago. How that comports with its release today and what we’d been led to believe about its recent preparation, I have no idea. But I wanted to share a few thoughts on what the letter does or doesn’t mean.

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As is so often the case with President Trump, his latest rant – threatening James Comey with “tapes” – largely speaks for itself. But there is one point that I think calls for some elaboration.

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As is no surprise, we’re now hearing the first accounts of James Comey’s recollections of his interactions with the President. Today, President Trump (not terribly plausibly) claimed that Comey three times assured him he was not under investigation. The first assurance came in a private dinner; the next two came in phone conversations. Comey’s version, not surprisingly, differs from Trump’s. But just as interesting as the recollections is the date.

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Yesterday I let you know, flatly and deliberately, about the importance of our 2017 Prime sign up goal and how, candidly, it would be no end of help to me if people who are considering signing up could sign up now. Since this would help me focus on writing about the Comey firing and possible, subsequent, collapse of the American republic. You came through! 229 new subscribers signed up yesterday! Thank you. That is just a decent dent in the 10,000 new subscribers we need to sign up by the end of 2017. But it’s a great number for a single day. So thank you. Bigly. Want to sign up now? Click right here. Better reading experience, major karmic boost.

Last night I was reading through the TPM email box when I saw this note from TPM Reader JG. As has happened so many times over the years I thought it was a game try but it simply couldn’t be right. And yet …

Well, let’s look at the email.

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I mentioned earlier that we shouldn’t forget this simple point. Virtually everyone of note in the White House has already repeated and vouched for President Trump’s story of how and why he fired James Comey. Not only was this story a plain absurdity on day one; all the information which has emerged over the last two days has tended to confirm its falsity. Here’s the key point. Everyone who has repeated it knows it’s false. They have knowingly lied on the President’s behalf and about a matter of grave national importance. That includes the Vice President. So in the extreme scenario that the President leaves office and is succeeded by the Vice President, the sitting President will still be directly implicated in this lie and this cover-up.

But there’s an additional problem for everyone in the White House and all the President’s defenders in Congress. And it’s a big one. 

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Last night came word that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign Tuesday night when he realized that the White House was making him the key decision-maker in the firing of James Comey. This tells us a lot, but not necessarily what it might appear on first notice. The main significance is that no more than 30 hours in, the White House’s absurd cover story about firing Comey over his misdeeds toward Hillary Clinton – a lie that virtually everyone at the White House has now publicly repeated and vouched for – is coming apart at the seams. We can also see the staggering fact that after no more than two weeks on the job, Rosenstein’s public reputation, which was formidable, has been destroyed. He now joins a legion of Trump Dignity Wraiths, men and women (though mainly men) of once vaunted reputations or at least public prestige who have been reduced to mere husks of their former selves after crossing the Trump Dignity Loss Event Horizon.

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