Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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A correction. On Saturday I noted that a judge in New Hampshire had ordered the state Republican party to turn over all its records about its own investigation of the party's election-tampering activities on election day 2002. I said this was the judge in the upcoming trial of James Tobin, arch-phone jammmer who was then the NRSC Northeast political director and a Bill Frist employee.

The last part was incorrect. This happened not in the Tobin criminal case but in a separate legal proceeding -- the state Democratic party's civil suit against the state Republican party.

As I should have remembered, covering the NH GOP requires a pretty detailed knowledge of the state court system.

As you may have seen, the 'Denver Three' (the three Denver residents tossed out of a Bamboozlepalooza event for having a non-Bush-True bumper-sticker on their car) are headed to Washington today. And they're going to hand-deliver a letter to the White House today at 4 PM.

Also worth noting, in terms of credit where credit is due, the three will be meeting not only with Colorado Democrats on the hill but with Republicans too. They'll be meeting in person with Rep. Mark Udall (D)and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) and staff members of other key members of the delegation, including Rep. Beauprez (R), at whose Bamboozlepalooza event all the shenanigans went down in the first place.

Do let me know if these three worthies get any play on Inside Politics or the other similar shows.

Steve Soto has a great catch today over at the TPMCafe Economics discussion table about Social Security front. Sens. DeMint, Santorum and Graham next week will unveil a new plan to fund private accounts out of the money that's supposed to go into the Trust Fund.

So, after months of claiming that the sky is falling because the Trust Fund won't keep growing forever or, alternatively, that the Trust Fund doesn't exist at all, they now offer a new solution, raid the Trust Fund now to fund private accounts.

More news on the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal.

The judge in the James Tobin trial has ordered the New Hampshire Republican party to turn over all documents relating to their internal investigation into the phone-jamming hijinks.

According to this article by the Manchester Union Leader's John DiStaso, state party has turned over some documents in the past but withheld others with various claims of privilege. Judge Philip Mangones now says he wants to see them all by June 30th and he'll determine whether the privileges asserted have merit or not.

Grand jury investigation the Duke's house sale, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. Subpoenas served yesterday. Maybe the Duke is actually in the stir the Ethics Committee can look into it.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into the Randy "Duke" Cunningham case.

And there's also a bit more information about why Elizabeth Todd, the woman who set the wildly-inflated price for the home sale, might have done so: apparently she'd never sold a house before in her life. After she helped the Duke unload his first house on Mitchell Wade, Cunningham hired her to help him purchase the $2.55 million new house.

According to California records, helping the Duke buy the second house was Todd's first real estate transaction. Ever.

Commission on a $2.55 million home? Nice first commission.

From this evening's Nelson Report ...

[There is] an increased press and Congressional focus on the so-called “Downing Street Memo”, from the then-head of Britian’s secret service to Prime Minister Blair, stating flatly that President Bush and his top advisors had determined to go to war with Iraq well in advance of playing out the UN process.

Such an interpretation is, of course, arguable, as per the Bush/Blair press conference last week, about which you will have read, and will read more tomorrow, given a suddenly large push by more than 100 Hill Democrats. Our point for tonight is that this memo, really a series of memos, has had a strange life...but after a delayed reaction in this country, it seems to be leading somewhere...where, exactly, is the question.

We can report, not as a partisan, but as an observer who happened to be working for a Congressman deeply involved in the Pentagon Papers fight of 1971, that old hands note eerie similarities to the start-up process of questions raised, and the potential for Congress to become more seriously involved.

Two examples of related concerns to the “Downing Steet” memos: DOD Secretary Rumsfeld’s pre-positioning of thousands of troops and large stores of equipment, months before the final decision was made; the top-level White House involvement in the “torture memo” process that led directly to the international humiliation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, despite internal warnings from then-Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage.

Add those up, add your own examples, and you will know why you hear conversations in the past couple of days using the “impeachment” word...not as a prediction, this is way too soon and/or extreme for now...but as part of an attempt to measure historic parallels, and to think aloud on how far this process might go. Maybe nowhere? Or, maybe we’re just seeing the beginning of something. We mention it tonight because the conversation is being held less quietly than before, and politics in Washington may be about to get even worse, if you can imagine anything worse.

Passed on without <$NoAd$> comment.

San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins says: "Duke's done. One way or another, an under-the-table real-estate deal will end his long run in Congress."

With the news today that the boat Randy "Duke" Cunningham lives on down at the yacht club really isn't 'his' yacht but rather a yacht pretty clearly bought for him by a defense contractor getting his help on the appropriations committee, you really have to wonder: How do they think they'll get away with it? And yet, until now he has.

Yeah, I know. Apparently the Duke is 'renting' the boat. But how is it exactly that Mitchell Wade's boat got named the 'Duke Stir' anyway? He's a big John Wayne fan?

In any case, this is one of the things that always surprises me about Washington. There are many members of Congress -- hopefully most, but who knows? -- who are almost comically precise in following all the various rules and regulations about who has to pay for meals or whether some little trinket gift has to be reported. And when you're literal about them the rules are pretty broad and encompassing.

Even folks who get in trouble for campaign finance stuff are often breaking technical rules which, while important, don't go to issues of personal gain for the member of Congress involved. A lot of DeLay's troubles stem from Texas laws about corporate giving in political campaigns in the state.

And then you've got Duke Cunningham who appears to be more or less owned by a defense contractor with business before his committee. I mean, when you add up all we know, it seems like Mitchell Wade basically bought or heavily contributed to buying the Duke luxury homes (albeit, one waterborne) in the district and in Washington. And apparently no one noticed.

It's right out of the 19th century.

Living large, free of charge.

Ever since the story broke Sunday about Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and his uncanny real estate prowess, there've been questions bubbling about just how he affords other aspects of his lavish lifestyle. One question that's popped up again and again was how he can afford to have a 40+ foot yacht as his DC residence.

While in Washington, you see, the Duke resides on the "Duke Stir", a 42-foot, 34-ton yacht docked at the Capital Yacht Club down on the Potomac River.

Well, it turns out that the "Duke Stir" is owned by Mitchell Wade.

In reply to William Finn Bennett, who has the story in this morning's North County Times, Cunningham's office sent an email in which the Duke said: "I am putting information and records together so that you will know how much I pay to stay there, and you will see that everything we've done is appropriate."

I think we're pretty much at checkmate now, aren't we?