Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Interesting snippet in Fineman's latest column: "I expect that any GOP 2008 hopeful who wants evangelical support — people like Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and maybe even George Allen — will vote against Miers's confirmation in the Senate."

Annals of interesting coincidences.

I mentioned earlier that the assignment of new DOJ attorneys to the New Hampshire phone-jamming case -- particular a Public Integrity section lawyer -- may be tied the ever-expanding Abramoff investigation in DC.

Along those lines, we wanted to note two entries in the New Hampshire GOP's receipts ledger in the days just before the phone-jamming plan came off. $5000 a pop from two of Jack Abramoff's main piggy banks -- the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Okay, maybe I'm willing to be a bit bolder now (though probably late for the party) and say that no, I'm not at all clear that Harriet Miers is ever going to sit on the Supreme Court. The Times today quotes a staff lawyer to one Republican member of the Judiciary Committee saying: "Everybody is hoping that something will happen on Miers, either that the president would withdraw her or she would realize she is not up to it and pull out while she has some dignity intact."

Down further into the article we find out that Judiciary Republicans actually have their staffs working on anti-Miers research. If the Times report at all accurately reflects what's going on up there, that is a very big deal.

Clearly, at this point Miers has significant, if still silent, Republican opposition in the Senate. They want her gone. But they're not yet willing to have it be at the expense of dealing the president a major political reverse.

So how many Republicans will prove willing to come out against her? And which ones?

One interesting dimension of this Kabuki theater exercise is that it's not even completely clear which part of the Republican caucus open defections could come from. The White House now seems to be banking everything on the claim that Miers is a down-the-line evangelical Christian (I guess we might call this 'extreme originalism'). But Sen. Brownback, one of the most staunch pro-lifers in the Senate, seems to be most out in front questioning whether she should be on the Court.

As I wrote a few days ago, I think the real issue is not that there's yet that much focused and public opposition to Miers. The issue is just who the White House can find to champion this nomination or defend it. So far, I don't think I've heard one senator come out strongly for her. Pretty much the same thing with the standard GOP pressure groups on the outside.

With so little force propelling this pick forward, it won't take much to knock it back for good.

There are certainly a lot of hints, allegations and murmurs out there tonight, particularly on the bloggier part of the web, about what might be coming down the pike from Patrick Fitzgerald. My favorite is this snippet from Hardball -- caught and excerpted on John Aravosis' Americablog -- which has Howard Fineman describing an alleged pre-indictment (political) death struggle pitting Karl Rove against Andy Card.

Gotta love that. Whether it's true or not, who knows?

In any case, an article (sub.req.) in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal contains this pleasant sounding sentence: "Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy."

And then further down there's this: "Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims."

First of all, it did play a big role. That's where the push back came from.

If this description is accurate, it must have many folks at the White House in cold sweats.

If Karl Rove goes down in this investigation it'll be a disaster for the president, both in terms of the damage occasioned by such a high-level White House indictment and, frankly, because he needs the guy like most of us need legs.

But this WHIG thing is a whole 'nother level of hurt.

This group was the organizational team, the core group behind all the shameless crap that went down in the lead up to the Iraq war -- the lies about the cooked up Niger story, everything. If Fitzgerald has lassoed this operation into a criminal conspiracy, the veil of protective secrecy in which the whole operation is still shrouded will be pulled back. Depositions and sworn statements in on-going investigations have a way of doing that. Ask Bill Clinton. Every key person in the White House will be touched by it. And all sorts of ugly tales could spill out.

Back in the old days a congressman arrested for a DWI was a pretty big deal. But with half of the political establishment in DC about to be indicted, I guess this sort of thing just doesn't show up on the radar.

A friend in need is a ...

October 19, 2005 6:00 PM-7:00 PM

Please Join Congressman Mike Conway for a Reception with Special Guest Congressman Tom DeLay Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers 412 First Street, SE, 3rd Floor $1000 per PAC $500 per Individual Please RSVP to David Bowser or Amber Burton at 703-xxx-xxxx or email info@keelencomm.com

As it happens, the NRCC misspelled his name. It's Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX). He's one of the freshman Republicans from Texas elected by DeLay's redistricting scam. Also was Treasurer of Arbusto, one of President Bush's many failed business ventures.

Late Update: As long as we're on the subject, given past experience, Conaway looks like a pretty good shot for Fed Chair.

Just out from Murray Waas in National Journal: "In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's name, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony. Libby also did not disclose the June 23 conversation when he was twice interviewed by FBI agents working on the Plame leak investigation, the sources said. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently learned about the June 23 conversation for the first time just days ago, after attorneys for Miller and The New York Times informed prosecutors that Miller had discovered a set of notes on the conversation."

As I suspected it would, my post from earlier today about the Iraq spurred a storm of emails, many heated and indignant. But there also seemed to be more than a bit of confusion about just I was trying to say -- no doubt because of my lack of clarity.

So, on the main issue: We never would have gotten inspectors back into Iraq without a credible threat of force. But once the inspectors were in, they quickly began undermining the case that there was any serious WMD program or capability in Iraq. Had we pursued the inspections process in good faith, which we would have done had our true goal been eliminating WMDs (or confirming they weren't there), we probably would have avoided this current mess because the war never would have started.

That was my point.