Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

AP: "A federal judge on Friday set former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial date for January 2007, two months after the midterm congressional elections. Libby, who faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges, will go on trial Jan. 8, said U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. Walton said he had hoped to start the trial in September but one of Libby's lawyers had a scheduling conflict that made an earlier date impossible."

'Scheduling conflict'. Nice.

Okay, so John Boehner is Majority Leader now. And you'd think he'd want to get behind him this on-going civil suit against Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA).

But maybe he can't. Maybe he's too far over-extended.

A quick perusal of the case shows that what Boehner is mainly after now is a recovery of his legal fees. Already in late 2004 his lawyer told the DC district court that he'd racked up $500,000 in legal fees. And Boehner wants McDermott to pay them. (In 1998 Boehner got permission from the FEC to use campaign money to fund the suit. Boehner's lawyer is GOP top gun lawyer Mike Carvin.)

That was a year and a half ago. The fees must be much higher now.

What about that conference call Majority Leader Boehner was part of back in 1996 in which Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Boehner and a bunch of other Republicans plotted to defy the will of the House Ethics Committee?

Remember that?

This usually comes up in the news these days because Rep. Boehner has been pressing a longstanding civil suit against Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) over how the prohibited conversation took place.

To make a long story semi-short, Gingrich, DeLay, Dick Armey, Boehner and several others got together on a conference call to plot a counterattack against a finding of the House Ethics Committee -- something Gingrich was explicitly prohibited from doing as a condition of the punishment he received for various ethical infractions.

Boehner, though, called into the call on a cell phone. Because of that, a Florida couple picked up the conversation on a police scanner. They recognized Gingrich's voice, thought it sounded important and recorded it. They in turn gave a copy of the recording to Rep. McDermott who was then, co-chair of the Ethics Committee. McDermott later leaked copies of the recording to news organizations to show that Gingrich et al. had broken the rules.

The whole thing was a big to-do at the time.

Boehner later sued McDermott alleging violations of privacy and so forth. And he may well have a point (here's McDermott's side of the story and here's a post from John Aravosis on why the legal argument Boehner is pressing could have a seriously stifling effect on the press.)

But if that's a problem, it's McDermott's problem. It doesn't get Boehner off the hook. He did have the conversation. And he did plot with Gingrich and DeLay to obstruct the will of Ethics Committee, break House rules and to violate the terms of the punishment imposed on Gingrich.

The whole suit is a brilliant example of using the means of your getting caught to divert people's attention from what you got caught doing.

Is Boehner prosecuting a frivolous lawsuit? Did McDermott do something bad too? Like I said, that might be an issue if McDermott was the new Majority Leader. But he's not. It's what Boehner got caught doing, red-handed. What about it?

Interesting. Allen Raymond, one of the guys at the center of the New Hampshire phone-jamming case, was sentenced today up in New Hampshire.

In court, his lawyer, John Durkin, said that when Raymond was executing the election tampering plot he "was acting at the behest of the state and federal Republican parties (italics included)."

The call came from the campaign committee run by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN). Jim Tobin, who's now appealing his conviction, was the guy who worked for Frist's committee, the NRSC.

This investigation ain't over.

Okay, so it's Rep. John Boehner of Ohio for the new Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.

Let's not forget that Boehner is the guy who got a black eye back in the mid-90s for handing out checks from Tobacco lobbyists on the floor of the House. And of the three guys running for the job he had the most former staffers working on K Street.

But Boehner ran as a candidate of reform who would clean up the House GOP Caucus. So why not take him at his word? Because, think about it, there's so much cleaning up to do.

Isn't it time to get the Ethics Committee up and running again? How about Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) whose close campaign supporter Brent Wilkes repeatedly bribed fellow Rep. Duke Cunningham? (Who says? Cunningham says.) What about all the stuff coming out now about Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)? How about Roy Blunt's ties to Wilkes? What about some concrete steps to dismantle the K Street Project? What about Doolittle and Pombo or the other members of his caucus who were free-mealers at Signatures.

I could, believe me, go on and on. But I trust the point is made. Put the man to his test. The truth is that the rot simply runs too deep in the Republican House to be easily or painlessly excised. Actually cleaning House would be brutal, bloody and debilitating since it would shake the bases of Republican power to their foundations. No absolution, shall we say, without blood on the floor.

The Hill has a quick run-down of what happened in today's surprise GOP House Majority Leader vote.

The first round was Blunt 110, Boehner 79, Shadegg 40 and 2 for write-in candidate Jim Ryun.

Shadegg then dropped out, though he wasn't technically required to since Ryun was eliminated.

The next vote was Boehner 122, Blunt 109.

So basically every vote Blunt didn't get in round one turned out to be an anti-Blunt vote -- actually, plus one. On the surface the pre-vote tallies looked like Blunt winning with a wide margin. Actually, it was Blunt versus anti-Blunt. And he could never get into the lead. That's actually a sort of similar dynamic to what happened yesterday in the Democratic caucus race.

No honor among vote scammers!

This is actually kinda funny. Rich Lowry just filed this little squib at the Corner. "More ballots cast [on the House leadership vote] than there are members. Re-voting now...."

Roll Call has it too: "House Republicans are taking a mulligan on the first ballot for Majority Leader. The first count showed more votes cast than Republicans present at the Conference meeting."

Says TPM Reader JP: "This is priceless. They try to steal their own elections!"

TPM Reader JW is even more biting: "That's right, the Repubs are so corrupt they can't even hold an honest INTERNAL election..."

TPM Reader JM has a constructive suggestion: "Shouldn't Jimmy Carter have monitored the GOP vote?"

They've got muck; we've got rakes.

Just a little update here on TPMmuckraker.com. With your help we've just hired our second full-time muckraker. And we'll be launching the site this month.

More updates and details soon.

Tom DeLay stands up for lobbyists right to use the House gym. That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.