Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Dick Cheney may wish he could quit the Iraq-al-Qaida-link canard. But the urge is just too great.

This from his interview yesterday with Tony Snow ...

Some people have done is gotten very sloppy and said, well, there was no link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, and then jumped to the conclusion that there was no relationship at all with respect to al Qaeda.

And the Iraqis -- the fact is we know that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were heavily involved with terror. They were carried as a terror-sponsoring state by our State Department for many, many years. Abu Nidal operated out of there; Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Saddam Hussein was making payments to families of suicide bombers. All of this is very well established. And Steve Hayes is of the view -- and I think he's correct -- that a lot of those documents that were captured over there that have not yet been evaluated offer additional evidence that, in fact, there was a relationship that stretched over many years between Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda organization.

Some people. So sloppy.

Sic Transit.

Excellent. New Alito character witness testifying today, Peter Kirsanow, has ties to Jack Abramoff.

Kirsanow also just got a recess appointment from President Bush to do anti-Union work at the National Labor Relations Board. But, hey, let's stay on topic.

Mitt Romney really has the Midas Touch. The Massachusetts Governor and Chairman of the Republican Governors Association has decided that the organization will give $500,000 from newly-minted-felon Michael Scanlon to charity. But they're not in any rush. Since that's apparently what they're now running the organization on, they're going to spread the give-back over two years.

Okay, here's my question: where's the money?

The accepted number has it that Jack Abramoff collected more than $80 million in fees from his Indian gambling clients. And, remember, those weren't his only clients.

Take the example of Abramoff's work for Tyco, handled by the company's counsel Timothy Flanigan.

Abramoff had Tyco pay 'Grassroots Interactive' $2 million for doing various astroturf bamboozlement on their behalf. But a subsequent investigation found that $1.5 million of that money was "diverted to entities controlled by Mr. Abramoff" and spent on other things. (This is sort of like being defrauded out of your rightful fraud.) That's a decent amount of money. Where is it?

Abramoff has been telling friends and, at least indirectly, reporters for some time that he's close to broke. And I've seen at least some evidence that suggests that that is either true or that he is, as the finance types says, very illiquid.

You only have to look at the stories of Abramoff's lifestyle and various projects to know he was probably burning through lots of money in his glory days. But I don't think that quite explains it. The sums coming in are just too big.

We keep hearing of pretty sizeable sums of money that disappeared into this or that Abramoff-controlled entity. Where did it all go?

I think that's where the story is.

Those really were the days, weren't they?

That's Ralph Reed at the DC Grand Opening of Century Strategies, his political consulting firm. The date is June 24th, 2003. And those were, of course, the salad days.

That's Ralph in the center. Jack Abramoff is there on the right. And we're pretty certain that the woman on the left is Susan Ralston, Abramoff's former executive assistant who, at the time this photo was taken, was executive assistant to Karl Rove.

Compare the photo with this photo of Ralston.
We report; you decide. You know the drill.

Coming later: a picture of Jack and W?

A bit earlier we told you how one of Rep. Bill Jefferson's (D-LA) former staffers, Brett Pfeffer, is pleading guilty today to charges of bribing public officials in a federal court in Northern, Virginia. One of our favorite TPM Readers sends us in this note ...

Josh-- Brett Pfeffer was president of MorganFranklin Corp., whose clients include the Executive Office of the President and DoD, among others.

Among their projects have been the IT infrastructure for Bush's 2d inaugural and technical support to the 2004 G8 Summit hosted by Bush last year.

Also worth noting that MorganFranklin's lobbyists are a couple of Republicans from Dutko.

Can't tell yet when Pfeffer's gig there ended. I'll keep you posted.

We'll keep you posted too.

Another thought on the DeLay Rule, the rule passed just after the 2004 election designed to allow Tom DeLay to stay on as Majority Leader even after he was indicted for a felony. Most members of the House GOP Caucus voted for it back then. Do they stand by it now? If constituents call, how are they saying they voted?

Last night we noted that Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is now the House Republican point man on ethics and 'lobbying reform'. A year ago, he was a big supporter of the DeLay Rule. I wonder what he's saying now. Does he remember how he voted?

If you ring up your member of Congress and ask them point blank how they voted on the 'DeLay Rule', they may not remember what you're talking about. Technically, this is the change to the rules of the House Republican Conference, passed in November 2004, which allowed then-Majority Leader DeLay to remain as Majority Leader even if he was indicted. So if you call just be courteous and clear and explain that you feel you're entitled to an answer.

What is your Republican member of Congress saying today?

If you hear anything, drop us a line, let us know what you hear.