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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We've seen a few drop-offs in support for President Trump since he took office two months ago. But they've mainly rebounded to a relative stability with a high single digit deficit in public approval. This is his steepest dive to date.

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Two weeks ago today, President Trump went on Twitter and leveled a series of accusations against former President Obama, most notably that Obama had wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower. The claim has been roundly criticized ever since. Notably, it came on the heels of a new round of damaging revelations about ties between Trump's entourage and Russia. We've now had formal inquiries from the congressional intelligence committees, statements from the Department of Justice and the FBI, a follow on attempt by Trump and Spicer to redefine what the President actually said.

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This is a fascinating and significant development. John Podesta is supporting Tom Perriello over Lt Gov. Ralph Northam as Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia.

As Allegra Kirkland notes here, the remaining defenders of President Trump's preposterous Obama wiretapping claim now find themselves out on a limb. But let's also note the media's responsibility for perpetuating this farce. Even today, I continue to hear that there is "as yet no evidence" for Trump's claims. This is not remotely the normal way anyone discusses things like this.

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Speaker Paul Ryan just gave two back to back live interviews on MSNBC (Meet the Press Daily) and CNN (Wolf Blitzer). He struck me as agitated and defensive, occasionally verging on sarcastic. They weren't great interviews. I'm tempted to call them meltdowns. But that's probably overstated; I'm going to wait to hear what others think. What I will say is that, having heard Ryan make his case, I think he and his bill may be in a worse position than I realized.

There's a very good story out today from Bloomberg chronicling the flow of money from the former Soviet Union into real estate ventures built by or licensed with the name of Donald Trump. In this case most of what we are talking about is not investment in projects or loans to fund them but the purchase of individual apartments units - though sometimes in bulk - in Trump branded or owned buildings. This is a story we and others have told you. But this new article firms the story up considerably with a new level of detail.

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There was a flurry of statements, recognitions and un-promises over the course of last night on the same front. Yesterday Vice President Pence tried to assuage Republican concerns that President Trump has had an at best diffident approach to his support of the House repeal bill. Coming out of that meeting, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told reporters, "This president is ready to put the full weight of his bully pulpit and all of his tools [behind the bill]. It was very important for us to hear that, because there are a lot of people who need that shoring up.”

This has been a very real and justified concern for the members who have to vote on this bill and face voters in less than two years. As we've discussed, President Trump's grasp of the details of health care policy is so thin, his ideology so protean and his narrow self-interest so total that any Republican on Capitol Hill has to be highly concerned he'll abandon them in the lurch. Something like that seemed to happen last night. When Tucker Carlson pressed Trump on how the bill would hurt his own core supporters, the President said in so many words that yeah, the bill may suck and if it does he won't sign it.

Good luck to anyone foolish enough to vote for a bill the President himself may turn against.

Then Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been saying that this is the bill and it ain't changing, suddenly said this bill actually can't pass the House.

Clearly the GOP leadership, in both chambers, is realizing that something with this bill will need to change. But the problem goes deeper than this. It's not simply that the plan appears to need major changes to pass. The issue is that it will require changes in what look like two, irreconcilable directions. Each side might be capable of some bargaining and compromise. But it's not to me how the compromises that might be possible with the House 'Freedom Caucus' members get anywhere near the ones demanded by Senators who have to face real electorates.

Much of this is just the predictable outcome of almost eight years of promises and activism that were always going to be hard to fulfill. It's mostly that. But a very big part of this is a point we've noted a few times in recent weeks. When it comes to difficult and/or consequential legislation, it is usually the case that the President is the critical element in the equation. It is only the President who controls a sufficient menu of threats and favors, a sufficiently loud voice and in the beginning of the presidency at least a lot of popularity to get at least everyone in his party moving in unison.

Donald Trump has shown little ability or inclination to play that role. He seems more focused standing back and being ready to jump on whichever side ends up being most popular or least likely to put him in a bad position. That's the last thing legislation needs from a President.

"We will take care of our people or I’m not signing it." That's Donald Trump last night in an interview with Tucker Carlson.

It certainly makes sense both politically and morally that President Trump night push or sign a bill that victimizes his own supporters as much as anyone. Every President recognizes and serves the needs of his core supporters, the bedrocks of his political coalition. But it is rare to see a President who so openly presses his goal of serving the needs of his own supporters either to the exclusion or indifference of everyone else.

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"We're trying to make sure we're weeding out those with upward mobility. It's very crucial that this has some teeth to it, because what you don't want is for the money to be rationed out among a larger amount of people." Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) on his faction's efforts to impose a work requirement on Medicaid as part of the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare.

As today's feature piece by Tierney Sneed suggests, much of what Republicans are calling Obamacare repeal is actually turning out to be an effort to gut Medicaid.

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