Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We have a pretty stunning development about aides to Donald Trump apparently (though they deny it) hiring the same Israeli dirty ops/private intel firm that Harvey Weinstein used to cover up his history to mount an operation against public supporters of the Iran deal.

We start with this story in The Guardian. It’s very hedged and key details are not included. But the gist is that aides to Donald Trump hired an Israeli security firm to dig up dirt on two prominent supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. They are Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, both Obama administration national security hands who were involved in the negotiation. They both continue to be prominent supporters of it into the Trump era. Last night I said that it sounded like Black Cube, the firm that surveilled and ran black ops operations against Harvey Weinstein’s accusers on his behalf.

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There’s a lot of understandable buzz about two and a half articles published yesterday tied to President Trump’s finances and the Russia probe. The half we’ve already discussed, the news about presidential confidant Tom Barrack. The others are a detailed piece about Michael Cohen’s finances in the Times and a fascinating reconstruction of Trump’s post-2006 finances in the Post.

I’m gratified to note that the Cohen article in the Times mainly contains information you’ve found here in various articles at TPM over the last year. But there are important new details which are well worth your time to read. Let me start by noting a few broad brush takeaways from each article and how they may intersect.

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I mentioned a few days ago that just last March Rudy Giuliani went to Albania to speak before an Iranian exile group which is widely regarded as a cult and was for many years a US-government designated terrorist group. Giuliani is a long-time recipient of money (for speeches and lobbying) from the MEK and its various front groups. (There’s no word yet on what he was paid if anything for the March appearance.)

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The AP is reporting that the Special Counsel’s office has interviewed Trump confidant Tom Barrack. When exactly this happened isn’t clear. One source says it was “months ago.” There aren’t many details about what Barrack was asked. The AP has three different sources and at least two gave slightly different descriptions of the questions. One said the questions focused on Manafort and Gates; another said investigators asked about them as well as asking broader questions about the financing of the 2016 campaign. Both of these make sense. There are critical unanswered questions about Barrack’s role – ones that have still gotten only the most cursory public airing.

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We can sometimes go wrong by building an edifice out of a series of interlocking inferences. But sometimes the inferences are so strong we should do so, at least tentatively, nonetheless. Look at this story from yesterday from CNBC about Mueller’s tight focus on collusion and specifically links and conversations between Roger Stone and former Trump campaign official and Manafort deputy Rick Gates.

Here’s a key passage …

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We’ve seen an avalanche of news about the Trump legal team, the Stormy Daniels pay-off, the state of the Michael Cohen investigation and the President’s evolving legal jeopardy in the last 24 hours. It started yesterday afternoon with news about a shake up on the President’s legal team and spun out of control in that Rudy Giuliani interview on Hannity last night. We wanted to try to make sense of everything that happened, put it into a comprehensible whole. So we recorded a special “Extra” edition of The Josh Marshall Podcast this afternoon. Listen right here. And tell us what you think.

Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) is a notorious cult-like group of Iranian exiles which appears to have close to literally zero support inside Iran but has for years cultivated significant ties to DC Iran “regime change” advocates as well as a bipartisan list of shills willing to take their money (of which they have quite a lot).

It’s an odd group which mixes Islam, Marxism and neocon-inflected DC Pay-to-Play values into a bizarre amalgam run by current cult leader Maryam Rajavi. Until just a few years ago the US State Department listed them as a terrorist organization. They appear to be mainly out of the terrorism business now. But they’re still a treacherous and dangerous group. With all this you’ll be glad to learn that one of their biggest backers is none other than Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton. And perhaps they’re most high profile and ardent supporter (and recipient of their cash) is Rudy Giuliani.

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Read what this person says. I cannot identify the person but I can vouch for the expertise.

I know everyone has a take on this Rudy/Cohen shit-show, but I thought I would give you some perspective from someone steeped in anti-corruption enforcement (both domestic and foreign) on the prosecution and defense side.

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Here’s a Rudy Giuliani Golden Oldie from the TPM Video Vaults. Watch. You’ll be glad you did. After the jump …

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