Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Let me expand on the significance of our Sam Clovis story.

Once Carter Page became a key figure in the Russia story, everyone wanted to know: who chose him? He wasn’t some controversial figure in the Republican foreign policy world. No one had ever heard of him. Did Manafort bring him in? Mike Flynn? It turned out it was Sam Clovis. This always seemed like an evidentiary dead-end. Sam Clovis? Clovis was a retired Air Force pilot who was working at a small college in Iowa when he became a big deal in the local Tea Party movement. He had a talk radio show. He ran for the GOP Senate nomination in 2014. The Iowa caucuses are a big deal. So as a local Tea Party big wig, Clovis was a catch. He initially signed on with Rick Perry. But he ditched Perry for Trump in August 2015.

Bringing on Clovis was a perfectly logical move for Trump, even a bit of a coup. The choice also presaged Trump’s hard and unshakeable relationship with the evangelical right. But what Clovis, a big shot Tea Partier from Iowa would have to do with Russia was totally unclear. So how did Page and Papadopoulos get picked? Also remember: According to the Papadopoulos plea deal, after signing on to the campaign, the first he heard was Clovis telling him that a rapprochement with Russia would be a “principal” focus of the campaign. Was that Clovis? Was that coming from Trump?

It’s in this context that this video seems so significant. All of a sudden, a lot of pieces seem to fit together, at least more logically than they had.

Here we have video that suggests that Clovis was highly sympathetic to Russian ambitions in Ukraine well before anyone thought Donald Trump was going to run for anything. So Russophilia clearly pre-dated Trump. If Trump’s decision to bring Clovis on board was inexplicable, that would be one thing. But as I noted above, it wasn’t. It made sense for entirely unrelated reasons. Did some significant part of the Trump campaign’s pro-Russia orientation came from Clovis? Or was that why he ended up with the campaign in the first place? Russia has made strides in recent years building bridges to the US evangelical right. Is that part of what we’re hearing here?

Remember that two of five of Trump’s first five named foreign policy advisors immediately started trying to set up channels of communication with Russia. That’s a high percentage. Is Clovis’s role as the chooser of the team bigger than we realized?

As you can see, there are many more questions here than answers. But how Clovis came into the campaign, how he chose Papadopoulos and Page, and the origins of his views on Russia now seem central to the story.

Read More →

When I first saw this, I was stunned. A big piece of the Russia puzzle. In a little watched campaign video from Sam Clovis’s failed 2014 Senate run, Clovis stated staunchly pro-Russian views about the Ukraine crisis. This was on March 17th, 2014, a day before the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and more than a year before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy. At one point in the video Clovis says that “Russia, [by] placing forces on the ground in Ukraine, will help assist them in moving back into the Russian empire.” Read our report here.

Yesterday I appeared on a panel about digital publishers who are ‘pivoting to video’. I’ve written about this before. But in case you’re new to it, there have been numerous cases over the last six months to a year in which digital publishers have announced either major job cuts or in some cases literally fired their entire editorial teams in order to ‘pivot to video.’ The phrase has almost become a punchline since, as I’ve argued, there is basically no publisher in existence involved in any sort of news or political news coverage who says to themselves, my readers are demanding more of their news on video as opposed to text. Not a single one. The move to video is driven entirely by advertiser demand.

Read More →

You’ve probably seen the new Fox poll which has Doug Jones with an eight point lead over Roy Moore in Alabama. I’m skeptical. This isn’t a criticism of the particular poll. I’m just skeptical whether Roy Moore has suffered that much of a decline. This doesn’t mean Democrats shouldn’t put everything they have into winning this race. They should. They should be all in. But I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that Jones has now opened up a substantial lead over Moore. Winnable? Yes. But I don’t think Jones has anything like an eight point lead.

Keep an eye on this …

A gold trader who is close to Turkish President Recep Erdogan is now cooperating with federal prosecutors in a money-laundering case, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, and legal experts say prosecutors may be seeking information about any ties between the Turkish government and former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn.

More here.