Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, time to sweeten the pot.

One brand new TPMmuckraker.com T-shirt for the first TPM Reader who gets an actual answer from their Republican member of Congress on whether they think President Bush should release the White House Abramoff Records.

Actually, scratch that, a TPMmuckraker.com T-Shirts and a mug. We're pulling out all the stops.

It doesn't matter what the answer is. They can think he should release them or that he shouldn't. We don't care. We're just looking for some clear answer.

The T-shirt, the mug and ineffable glory await the winner.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL), another congressman whom one of our readers can't get a straight answer from about the White House Abramoff Records.

Have you tried to get an answer from your member of Congress yet? Let us know what you hear.

Noel L. Hillman is the Chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Division. Both on paper and in reality he's been the one heading up the Abramoff investigation for the last two years.

He's stepping down next week because President Bush just nominated him for a federal judgeship.

So we have the obvious question. Is he being escorted aside to put a damper on the investigation?

You can draw your inferences as well as I can. But there is one bit of hard information that gives me real cause for concern.

Go back to that New Hampshire phone-jamming case we're always talking about. Until the middle of 2004, the Justice Department seemed to be doing everything it could to drag its heels on the case. There were even some fairly tangible and specific signs of political interference in the case.

Then the case was reassigned to the Public Integrity Division, under Hillman, and things changed on a dime. The prosecution become much more serious and aggressive.

Once an investigation is this far-flung, with so many career prosecutors and FBI agents involved, it's not easy to shut it down. But warning it away from the big players is by no means impossible. And I'd be much more confident in the integrity of the investigation with Hillman still at the helm than without him.

So is there reason for concern? I'd say, yes.

This is a message about TPMCafe, not TPM. But since there's so much overlap between the readerships of the two sites I wanted to post this message here too.

TPMCafe is almost eight months old.  And this weekend we're going to relaunch the site with a new design and new tools and features many of you have been asking for for months (like those much-prized threaded commments, et al.).  We're excited about the new set up and we think you'll like it too.

However, there are a few things that will happen during the switch-over and I want to cover them briefly with you now.

  1. If you're a registered user of the site, your username will remain the same.  All the posts and comments you've done will remain intact.  But you will need to get a new password.  Without going into all the nitty-gritty technical details, there was simply no good way of getting around this.  But we've made it very easy to do.  You'll be getting an email late this evening with more details.  But basically when you come to the site the first time there will be an explanation and a link to click which basically says "Send me my new password."  It's all very straightforward.  Should take you like 30 seconds, tops.  But I just want to let you know that'll be coming.

  2. If all goes according to schedule we'll do the switch-over overnight Saturday.  So the new site should be there when you log on Sunday.  But the site will be offline for several hours after midnight on Saturday night.

  3. The precise details of how you post and stuff like that will be straightforward.  But it will be a little different.  So we'll have a new FAQ prominently displayed on the front page that will walk you through anything that's not clear.

Finally, on behalf of myself and TPM Media Managing Editor Kate Cambor, I want to thank all of you for being regular readers of this site.  We know a change-over like this can take of a bit of adjusting to, finding out where a certain button or link has moved to, and so forth.  So we want to assure you that we've given a lot of time and thought to these changes and we're confident that the result will be one that is a big improvement for your experience visiting this site and the community we're working to build here.  

If you have comments or questions, please put them in the comments below.  And we'll try to answer them in subsequent House Brew posts.  

Click here to get to the comments section for this post at TPMCafe.

Okay, TPM Readers have talked to a bunch of Republican members of Congress and so far not one is willing to respond to the question of whether President Bush should agree to release the White House Abramoff Records. No comment. We'll send you a letter. The House doesn't have any say over that. Etc. etc. etc. Seems like fertile ground.

Is the California GOP congressional delegation a veritable sinkhole of corruption? That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

What does your member of Congress think? Should the president release records of the meetings he and his staff held with Jack Abramoff? Or not?

We want to put together a list of where members stand and you can help us. Ring up your member of Congress and just ask. Do they think he should or shouldn't. Then let us know what you hear.

It's a simple question: Should President Bush release the White House Abramoff Records or not.

Where's Chris Chocola stand? Heather Wilson? Melissa Hart?

Let us know what you hear.

Sometimes the symbols of reality obscure reality. Whether there are one or five or a hundred pictures of President Bush and Jack Abramoff is really beside the point. What is the point is this line from President Bush from yesterday's press conference: "You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."

Even discounting for the inherent squishiness of the language, that's just a lie.

Doesn't know him? Please. Like most successful politicians President Bush has a knack for remembering names and faces. On top of that, well ... let's set aside the fact that Abramoff was apparently a frequent attendee at White House staff planning meetings, seeded the administration with a bunch of his former employees, and so forth.

Let's just focus on a few key facts.

For the first three years of Bush's presidency Abramoff was arguably the most wired Republican lobbyist in Washington.

Bush doesn't know him?

Abramoff was a long time associate of one of the president's top political advisors, Grover Norquist and his chief political guru Karl Rove.

Bush never made his acquaintance?

Every Republican power player in Washington knew Jack Abramoff. Many of them knew him very, very well. But President Bush never knew him? Their paths never crossed?

That is simply ridiculous.

What's more, everyone asking the questions knows it's ridiculous. The problem is that absent a 2+2=5 type statement they fon't feel comfortable calling the president out as a liar.

Pictures in themselves don't mean much. There are pictures of the president with people he knew far less well than Jack Abramoff, people he really never knew at all. But when those pictures of Abramoff and the president slip into public view, the lie will simply become unsustainable. They know that.

And that's why the White House is turning the city upside down doing everything in its power to insure they never see the light of day.