Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Since President Trump was inaugurated in January we’ve heard an on-going discussion about how to interpret and understand Trump in the context of other authoritarian leaders around the world and from the past. That is an important conversation because that is, in most respects, the proper context in which to understand Trump.

But there’s another prism which has become increasingly clear over the last four months – that is the model of monarchy and the incapacitated king. I noted recently that the U.S. president is, largely by design, in key respects something like an elected monarch, albeit one bounded by two theoretically co-equal branches of government. The President isn’t president because he enjoys the support of his party or congressional majorities. He is president because being president means that he has a panoply of rights, prerogatives and powers as a person.

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I was away for a long weekend at a college reunion. I wasn’t totally offline. I actually poked around the web here and there. But I wasn’t monitoring the news, responding to it, in the way I normally. I was, I confess, surprised at how rapidly things were able to degenerate in just three days. The terror attack in London is not Donald Trump’s fault of course. But his response to it is hard to fathom even for him.

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Sometimes the importance, import and context of a story is only revealed by subsequent events. The Michael Cohen ‘peace plan’ story from early February is one of those cases. As Allegra Kirkland explains here, back in early February, Cohen and mafia-linked Trump Organization associate Felix Sater met at the Loews Regency hotel in Manhattan with Andrii Artemenko, a Trumpish, pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian to discuss a ‘peace plan’ for Ukraine. The story emerged in mid February and received a decent amount of attention. But key facts look quite different after what we learned during the consequential month of May.

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In this new piece, Allegra Kirkland gives us an overview and some choice details of the wild world of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s ‘personal lawyer’ and longtime Trump Organization operative – the side business with Ukrainian emigre taxi barons, the casino boats, the ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen turns out to be a major player in the New York City taxi business. One of his erstwhile business partners is Simon Garber, a Ukrainian emigre with a long record of run-ins with the law and dominant figure in the NYC taxi world, as well as Chicago and New Orleans, and (formerly) Moscow. Here’s the time Cohen, allegedly waited until Garber was away on a business trip to ride out to Garber’s New Jersey country horse farm estate and “manipulate” Garber’s wife into signing a new contract in Cohen’s taxi contract dispute with Garber.

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The President’s decision on Paris is terrible, in some ways all the more so because it was almost certainly driven not by any strategy or ideological goal but emotion and hurt feelings of the moment. If Angela Merkel hadn’t criticized him after the summit, it might have turned out differently. President Trump is entirely capable of being a policy changeling in cases where his own ego injury and Russia are not in the balance.

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Today is June 1st. It’s the first day of our annual Prime membership sign-up drive. If you’ve been planning on signing up, please ignore everything below and just click here and sign up right now. It’s cheap, awesome and important.

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