Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It's amazing how the mind works.

Of all the things for John Bolton to forget about, he forgets that he was interviewed for the Joint State-CIA IG Report on the Niger forgeries.

Here's a question, though. My impression is that you don't just fill these confirmation disclosure forms out one evening in the den over a cup of tea.

I think it's a thorough process, with a team that goes over details, checks over specifics and so forth.

Presumably it was a team of people from State, though I don't know whether they were from his shop or congressional liaison or what. Bolton can't have been the only one who knew he'd been interviewed as part of that investigation, for he wasn't a minor player in the case the Inspectors General were investigating. And he certainly wasn't the only one who reviewed that form.

The latest on the Taylor case, from the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Apparently, his voting card was 'invalid', even though it had worked for a number of other votes on the same day ...

Taylor spokeswoman Deborah Potter said Thursday that Taylor cast his vote near the end of the voting period.

Potter said House members have electronic cards that allow them to vote from another location when they can’t make it to the House floor.

“At the terminal where he put his card in and voted, he voted no,” Potter said.

The machine apparently recorded Taylor’s vote as an invalid card, according to Brian Walsh, press secretary for Congressman Bob Ney. Ney’s office oversees the House Clerk’s Office.

Members of Congress receive a new voting card every Congress, and it’s not clear what the problem was with Taylor’s card.

Are they really serious about <$NoAd$> this?

Apparently, according to the AP, the State Department is confirming Sen. Biden's claim that John Bolton failed to tell senators that he was interviewed in the joint State/CIA IG probe into the US government's use of the forged Niger papers.

Late Update: I've gotten a lot of emails about this. So I wanted to clear up a seemingly widespread confusion. In questioning today, the State Department has apparently backed up Bolton's claim that he did not testify before Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. The reference above is to the joint State Department-CIA IG investigation from 2003. These are totally different things, though they are both related to the same underlying issue -- the Niger forgeries.

Okay, this is pretty pitiful.

You know we've been talking all day about Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) and his claims that the House vote counting tabulation system had wrongly counted him as not voting on CAFTA when in fact he had voted "NO".

We brought you an interview with Rep. Coble (R-NC) who Taylor said he voted with as well as our fruitless efforts to confirm Taylor's story with the House Clerk's office.

Now I've just seen this AP story which follows up on the various stories of Reps who got squeezed by the leadership at the last moment for their votes. The story follows up on Taylor's statement about the mistake in the voting tabulation. And Taylor was apparently asked when he realized the mistake had occurred. According to the AP Taylor said, "This morning, after I got out of the gym."

I'm sorry. But that's ridiculous.

CAFTA was a very important vote. It was particularly important and controversial in Taylor's district, which is very hostile to free trade agreements (for the moment, we'll set aside the issue of what constitutes 'free trade', etc.). Taylor was one of the House Republicans targeted by the leadership to get pressed hard on voting for CAFTA even though it would clearly be unpopular in his district.

He gets wrongly counted as failing to cast a vote. It's publicized widely. And he only realizes something went wrong the next day when he's leaving the gym?

Is that credible?

House Voting Machine Snafu update.

As I noted earlier, Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) put out a statement today claiming that he'd voted "NO" on CAFTA only to have the House Clerk's office make an error which led to his vote not being counted. In his statement, Taylor noted that he'd voted with fellow North Carolina Rep. Howard Coble. And we spoke to Coble at length about this this afternoon.

But Taylor also said: "The Clerk's computer logs verified that I had attempted to vote, but it did not show my 'nay'."

I've been trying since late afternoon to get confirmation of this from the House Clerk's office; and I've been told by staffers that Deputy Clerk Gerry Vans is the only person in a position to comment. But I've so far failed to get any response.

I'm a bit unclear about this.

Rawstory has just posted a letter Sen. Biden wrote to Condi Rice alerting to her to the fact that John Bolton may have misinformed the Foreign Relations committee with respect to whether he was interviewed by the State Department IG during the course of the State Dept./CIA joint inspectors general report from 2003.

I find this a bit mystifying for a couple reasons. My recollection from last year, first of all, is that Bolton's supporters were pretty freely noting this report and claiming that it had cleared him of any wrongdoing in the Niger/Uranium matter. Secondly, does this mean that Biden's staff wasn't acquainted with the State/CIA joint report before today?

Okay, as we discussed earlier, Rep. <$NoAd$> Charles Taylor (R-NC) has put out a statement saying that he voted "NO" on CAFTA last night but that the voting machine didn't register his vote.

In the statement he put out he seems to imply that he and Rep. Howard Coble voted "No" together on the floor.

The exact statement reads (emphasis added)...

I voted NO on the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) in the vote last night. I informed the Majority Leader and the Appropriations Chairman I was voting no, as I had informed my constituents I was voting no. Rep. Howard Coble and I voted "no" together. Due to an error, my "no" vote did not record on the voting machine. The Clerk's computer logs verified that I had attempted to vote, but it did not show my "nay". I am re-inserting my "No" vote in the record. But even with my NO vote re-inserted, the bill still passed.

I'm reprinting the exact language of the statement because I want you to evaluate for yourself just what the words are supposed to mean. But I took them to mean that Coble was in some way a witness to his vote, that they had physically went to vote at the same time, etc.

I talked a few minutes ago with Rep. Coble (R-NC) and what he told me is this.

Coble recalled that he and Taylor had spoken earlier in the day and both told each other they were going to vote "No". Both had apparently been asked by House whip Roy Blunt to wait until late in the voting, even though they planned to vote "No", and both had agreed to do so.

Later that evening, when the voting was actually underway, Coble saw Taylor on the floor and suggested that after they both voted they should both leave the chamber together, to avoid strong-arming from the leadership to change their votes -- something that did eventually happen to fellow North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes.

After Coble eventually voted, he told me, he saw Taylor 15 to 20 feet away. Taylor said he'd just voted "No" too. After which, both left the chamber and went to Congressman Taylor's Appropriations Committee office, where they remained for roughly an hour.

During that time they watched the vote on the closed circuit House video, but without the volume on.

While this was happening, Coble's chief of staff Ed McDonald was watching on C-Span and heard Taylor's name being called off as not having voted. Realizing the problem, Coble told me, McDonald twice called Taylor's office to report the problem, but got no response -- the reason being, of course, that Coble and Taylor were in Taylor's Appropriations Committee office, watching with the volume off.

On the key question, was Coble actually with Taylor when he voted? Or did he see him vote? Apparently not.

"I didn't see him insert the card," said Coble.

When I asked Coble whether he had ever heard of such a vote tabulation error in the House, he told me he'd been in the House for twenty-one years and thought he had a recollection of its possibly having occurred once, but was not certain.

Late Update: I left messages this afternoon with Gerry Van at the House Clerk's Office to determine whether their computer records had in fact confirmed the voting snafu, as Rep. Taylor's statement claims. But I have yet to hear back from them.

(ed.note: We're discussing this evolving story in this discussion thread at TPMCafe.)

On this matter of Rep. Charles Taylor's (R) disputed vote on CAFTA last night, it's important to make the following point. The bill passed 217-215. Taylor was first counted as not voting. His no vote would make it 217-216, which of course still means it passes.

But that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.

These sorts of high-stakes votes are highly fluid and dynamic. Either side might have a handful of members on the sidelines who won't budge if it's a two or three vote margin but will make the hard vote if the margin is down to just one.

Normally this sort of monday morning quarterbacking is just woulda, coulda, shoulda. But if Taylor's vote was really misrecorded, it's worth considering.

Rep. Charles Taylor (R) of North Carolina has just put out a statement about his claim that his "NO" vote last night on CAFTA was not recorded by the House clerk.

We've posted the statement here.

As noted below, CAFTA won in the House last night by a mere two votes -- 217-215 -- in what has been described as unprecedented arm-twisting. Already, one Republican representative, Charles Taylor (R-NC) has claimed that, contrary to press accounts, he voted "No", only to have the House clerk "botch" his vote and record him as not voting.

If that's true, the bill passed by a single vote.

How often to votes get 'botched' by the House electronic voting system? And what more stories are yet to bubble out?