Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Good stuff! Holding Republicans to account violates their rights.

You have to love this. Three and a half years ago members of the New Hampshire state Republican party, the Republican National Committee and others entered into a criminal conspiracy to disrupt Democratic get-out-the-vote activities on election day.

That's not just me using that language. Two of conspirators pled guilty. Another, a then-employee of the Republican National Committee, was just convicted on two counts stemming from the scheme. For almost two years now, the state Democratic party has been pursuing a suit against the state party seeking redress and, mainly, to find out what really happened since at the beginning the Justice Department wasn't seriously pursuing the case.

Now, in recently filed court papers, the Republican State Committee’s attorney, Ovide Lamontagne, is claiming that the Dems' suit is "in attempt to use the court system to interfere with the (GOP’s) constitutionally protected election activities." There's a certain amount of sense to this, I suppose, since the Republican party, in its current incarnation, does seem to rely heavily on law-breaking as an electoral tool. Still, I've never heard it alleged that such criminality is constitutionally protected.

WorldNetDaily, July 11th, 2002 ...

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, head of Toward Tradition, and Gary Bauer, former GOP presidential candidate, will co-chair the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, or AAJC. A statement released yesterday calls the effort "a unique synthesis of Jewish authenticity and Christian grass-roots muscle."


The new cooperative, headquartered in Washington, D.C., will have an immediate constituency via Bauer's approximately 100,000-strong e-mail list. According to the statement, the advisory board of the organization will include Dr. James Dobson, Charles Colson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Rev. Pat Robertson, Pastor Rick Scarborough, as well as Rabbi Barry Freundel, Rabbi David Novak, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, Michael Medved, John Uhlmann and Jack Abramoff.

Noted without comment.

James Dobson: "If the nation’s politicians don’t fix this national disaster, then the oceans of gambling money with which Jack Abramoff tried to buy influence on Capitol Hill will only be the beginning of the corruption we’ll see. Some religious leaders want new ethics rules for Congress, but that’s only a band-aid fix. Politicians need to root out this infection. Gambling – all types of gambling – is driven by greed and subsists on greed. That makes it morally bankrupt from its very foundation. Gambling creates addicts, breeds crime and destroys families. We need courageous office holders who will begin the process of shutting down lotteries, casinos and other gambling outlets."

Noted without comment.

CNN's David Ensor has a follow-up here on that weird story about the NSA possibly snooping on CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Says Ensor: "A senior U.S. intelligence official told CNN on Thursday that the National Security Agency did not target CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour or any other CNN journalist for surveillance."

What we may have here though is an issue of terminology.

Remember that what Andrea Mitchell said or asked in her interview of James Risen was this: "Do you have any information about reporters being swept up in this net? (italics added)"

To be 'swept up' in a net isn't the same as being 'targetted' -- just ask dolphins. And toward the end of Ensor's piece on the CNN website, there's some hint that this distinction might be what we're talking about ...

The senior official said that from time to time NSA surveillance overseas "inadvertently" acquires recordings or copies of communications involving Americans -- or what the government calls "U.S. persons," which includes most U.S. residents and employees of American companies. By law, however, such materials are required to be erased or destroyed immediately, the official said.

Intelligence officials rarely comment on who they may or may not have collected information about, but because of all the speculation on Internet blogs, the senior official agreed to look into the matter for CNN. Another official privately said he was "puzzled" by NBC's decision to publish the raw transcript of the interview.

There's a lot of hinting and vagary here. But I think this gives some clue to where this goes.

Non-denial denial ain't just a river in Egypt!

Mark Graul is the former Chief of Staff for Rep. Mark Green (R) of Wisconsin. Now he's Green's campaign manager in the congressman's run for governor of Wisconsin.

Democrats back in the state have been razzing him for a few months over the fact that his name pops up numerous times in Team Abramoff emails we published here back in October. Graul followed up with a series of wiggly non-denial denials.

Now, with the Abramoff story starting to heat up, he's starting to question the source of the documents themselves, i.e., me.

Yesterday, Graul had this to say to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ...

Graul, who is now managing Green's campaign for governor, said the report was written by a "liberal blogger with an ax to grind." Graul said he hasn't seen the original documents on which the blog was based.

And from today's Green Bay Press-Gazette ...

Meanwhile, the former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Hobart, said Abramoff's plea bargain has no bearing on his past association with a former colleague of Abramoff.

Mark Graul, who is now campaign manager for Green's gubernatorial bid, acknowledges attending a Milwaukee Bucks-Washington Wizards basketball game as a guest of lobbyist Jennifer Calvert in 2000.


The Wisconsin Democratic Party, citing purported e-mails between Calvert and Abramoff posted by an Internet blogger, claims Graul also obtained free tickets to other events in Washington with Abramoff's OK.


However, Graul denied having attended the other events, saying he was in Wisconsin on the days they occurred.

"I can assure you that I didn't go to them," said Graul.

Graul said there's no evidence the alleged e-mails are authentic and that he never met Abramoff.

Calvert's relationship with Abramoff as a co-worker ended several years ago, when she left Preston Gates & Ellis to help establish the government affairs business at Washington Strategies, a smaller lobbying firm across the Potomac River from Washington in Rosslyn, Va.

Graul said Thursday that he considered his attendance at the game at the MCI Center in downtown Washington with Calvert primarily a social event. He did not recall what business topics were discussed.

The two became acquainted when one of Calvert's clients was an association that represented the personal watercraft industry, said Graul.

Calvert's firm said Thursday she was out of town for the week.

If you're interested in delving into the minutiae of this, note that Graul is changing his story about the hoops game with Calvert from what he said last year. Also, this talk about whether he showed for this game or that is just more bamboozlement. As we said last October "do we have proof that Graul showed up at the skybox that night? No. What we have are Team Abramoff emails saying he was one of the lucky Hill staffers who they gave tickets to. I'll let you draw your own conclusions."

Now, Graul's new angle seems to be that he hasn't seen the letters, isn't sure they're real, doesn't this, that and the other.

Mark, a bit of free advice courtesy of TPM: just admit you got some freebie tickets and move on. These emails were produced by the relevant parties pursuant to a lawful subpoena. They are most definitely authentic.

Graul knows they're real. And that's why he's been ducking my phone calls about them for three months.

If Graul doesn't have anything to hide here, why won't he take my call?

Graul is far from the only congressional staffer to snag a few skybox tickets from the Abramoff gravy train. He's just doing more than any of the others to cover it up.

In these days of easy ethics, who will take a stand for corrupt Abramoff money? That and other news in today's Daily Muck.

As a political party, you can't run on corruption if you're not running for reform. But as near as I can tell there is no Democratic reform proposal in Congress. Maybe this or that representative or senator has some proposal, but nothing that the opposition party in any way, as a whole, has gotten behind.

So where's the plan?

How will we know that a reform plan goes far enough? When a lot of members of the Democratic caucus have to be dragged to it kicking and screaming.

I just set up this thread over at TPMCafe to discuss this. Tell us a few concrete, straightforward proposals that you think could go some real way to cleaning up today's Washington.