Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As we prepare for an avalanche of hagiography and character assassination about James Comey, I want to flag this piece I wrote last May about the ‘Comey Myth’, how it came to be and Comey’s central role in creating and cultivating it. As I argue it is in many, most ways accurate. But Comey himself is perhaps the greatest devotee and believer in the Comey myth and that’s one of the reasons why he made severally critical bad judgments in 2016.

News came out overnight that there’s a hearing this morning on the Michael Cohen searches/raids at 10:30 AM before Judge Kimba Wood at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. TPM’s Allegra Kirkland is at the courthouse and will be in courtroom this morning. All that is known at this point is that the hearing relates to the Cohen raids. We don’t know more than that, though it seems logical to assume it’s an effort on the part of Cohen’s attorneys to throw out the fruits of those searches. We’ll bring you more when more details are available.

The excerpts from James Comey’s memoir are fascinating. But they are maybe the third or fourth biggest news item on the Trump-Russia front this afternoon. This isn’t to say they’re not significant. We understand the world around us, even the most serious matters, through characters and stories. His account provides color and compelling detail. But none of the details I’ve heard so far tell us things we didn’t already know or know as a general matter. There are several other highly significant developments which deserve your attention.

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We’ve now had numerous instances in which President Trump has taken some dramatically inappropriate or illegal steps but we only learn about it much, much later. Look what happened today. I strongly suspect we now have another example.

Earlier today, the White House press aide Lindsay Walters announced that today: “Rod Rosenstein met with the president at the White House regarding routine department business.”

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Note that there is an emerging attack from the White House that suggests that Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself because he has a conflict of interest in overseeing the Mueller probe. The conflict is this: Mueller is investigating the firing of James Comey as a central part of his investigation of potential obstruction of justice. But Rosenstein was a central player in that firing. He wrote the memo that Trump used to justify Comey’s ouster.

As you can see, the argument is not that crazy in itself. There are in fact many people who have suggested that Rosenstein should recuse himself. But note the position in which this puts the White House. The President is saying that Rosenstein can’t oversee the probe because he was a central actor in one of the President’s alleged bad acts that is under investigation.

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We know for a fact that Michael Cohen arranged a hush agreement with Stormy Daniels. He was at least involved in The National Enquirer’s ‘catch & kill’ purchase of the story of alleged Trump girlfriend Karen McDougal. This afternoon we’ve learned that FBI agents who raided the homes and office of Michael Cohen were looking for information about the Access Hollywood tape, at least suggesting that investigators believe he may have been involved in (unsuccessful) efforts to suppress that tape. We know enough to say that Michael Cohen was clearly on the Trump sex and assaults beat throughout the fall of 2016.

Who was he working with?

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A few telling morsels as we end the day. First Fox was out tonight with a breaking news alert about the drama of the day but with a jarring and revealing framing. Said Fox’s Bret Baier: The President is facing “the most serious and consequential personnel decision of his life tonight.”

Well, what personnel decision would that be? There’s no big personnel decision. Except of course that they’re referring to whether or not President Trump will decide to “pull the plug” on the Russia probe, as Baier put it. 

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