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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Wow

The EPA has requested 10 security agents to provide a 24/7 security detail for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Some specific threat? No, to handle "continuing activities from the left to foment hatred" and from "hostility within the agency."

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There's something a bit funny going on today. The White House is simultaneously claiming that news of the Carter Page FISA warrant vindicates their claims about Obama administration surveillance while also insisting Page had virtually nothing to do with the campaign. This is a complicated story because the Trump campaign - especially at that stage - was so chaotic and disorganized that the line between central and peripheral could be hard to detect and change from one day to the next. But the White House can't get away with saying that Page was an "informal" advisor one with "no official title."

He was as official as it got.

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People are talking seriously about Sean Spicer possibly losing his job over his remarks yesterday. Who knows what will happen? But this drama is infinitely emblematic of everything about this White House. Mainly because this whole drama is entirely self-inflicted and ridiculous. I see no sense here that Spicer inadvertently let slip his true feelings - a so-called "Kinsley Gaffe", inadvertently telling the truth. There are lots of people in this White House with dark and malevolent attitudes toward Jews. I see no reason to believe Spicer is one of them. This was just a clumsy and ridiculous, an entirely self-inflicted injury which Spicer was too clownish to avoid and too ridiculous to clean up.

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The Washington Post published a story this evening that adds a significant new piece to the Trump puzzle. The headline is that in the summer of 2016 the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a key player in the Trump/Russia story. Obtaining a FISA warrant is significant in itself since to do so the government must show probable cause that the target of the warrant is acting as the agent of a foreign power. What this means, what the government has to show is set forth very specifically in statute.

Let me run through what I believe are the key points in this story.

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Let me share a few thoughts on Sean Spicer's latest self-inflicted wound.

As you know, Spicer started off trying to make an argument about Assad by arguing that even Adolf Hitler hadn't used chemical weapons during World War II. In a polarized and fractious environment, this was obviously an ill-advised argument. Spicer is such a doofus that in trying to explain and clean up the comment he managed to make it worse with clumsy claims that he didn't use chemical weapons against "his own people."

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This afternoon Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a speech down at the USA-Mexico border at Nogales, Arizona with an amazingly stark line which mixed right wing apocalyptic snuff flicks and the kind of talk you hear from Steve Bannon and top aide Stephen Miller.

Here's one key passage from the speech as prepared for delivery ...

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The premise of most liberal internationalist interventionism is not just preserving norms about human rights and preventing mass killing but the belief that totalizing violence is inherently unstable and spreads. This was the idea in the Balkans in the 1990s. By and large, the Clinton administration's efforts, long delayed, often incomplete, largely vindicated this idea. The Balkans are no paradise but there are no mass killings there today. And there's a slow progress of integration into European norms and the European state system.

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Over the weekend, I wrote this piece on the bizarre, surreal, totally Trumpian situation in which Steve Bannon, ersatz "nationalist", part-time anti-unrooted (((cosmopolitan globalist elite)))) and all around Trump ideologue had managed to somehow summon up a situation out of his and his followers deepest fever dreams: he's on the verge of getting pushed out of the White House by the President's Jewish legacy real estate tycoon son-in-law, a couple of Jewish bankers from Goldman Sachs and ... well, that's really enough right there, isn't it?

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