Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Let me share some informed speculation and inference about last night’s news about Hope Hicks and Mueller probe. It has to do with the lead reporter Jo Becker and a series of stories she’s done on the Russia story.

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My colleague David Kurtz makes a very good point about this afternoon’s Peter Strzok revelation. Before getting to that good point, let me review the news. Strzok is the high-ranking FBI counter-intelligence agent who was removed from the Mueller probe over anti-Trump texts he’d shared with another FBI employee he was then having an affair with. Strzok and his then-girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, have become the centerpiece of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory which posits an FBI/Deep State cabal manufacturing the Russia probe to delegitimize and destroy Trump’s presidency.

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I saw a fascinating interview just a few moments ago on CNN. It was with Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL). Great minds think alike, I guess. Here’s a bit of background before we get to the interview.

Over the last day or so I’ve been hearing these questions about whether the White House collaborated on writing the Nunes Memo. It seemed neither side – not Nunes or the White House – was giving a straight answer. After hearing this a few times, it clicked for me. Of course, they worked together! They have a history. This goes all the way back to the Spring of 2017 when Devin Nunes got caught up in that bizarre “un-masking” nonsense, working as the errand boy of the White House. Remember, that midnight visit to the White House, looking at supposedly highly classified documents that revealed a scandal about ‘un-masking’ and illicit Obama White House surveillance of the Trump 2016 campaign. The whole charade finally blew up in Nunes’ face and led indirectly to his what amounted to his forced recusal from the House intelligence committee investigation. So he’s got a history.

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If you missed it last night in the run up to the speech, please take a moment to read my backgrounder post about the Inspector General’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton emails probe in 2016. Big picture: what began as a probe into James Comey’s at best botched final-week intervention into the campaign appears to have been repurposed into a probe into whether the FBI didn’t intervene enough. It’s like entering bizarro world. Very troubling stuff. Take a look (Prime access).

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What to make of this speech? I found it fairly conventional as Trump speeches go. In fact, in structural terms it was pretty conventional in general terms too. The first half of the speech – as I noted below – was a fairly standard recitation of President Trump’s goals and accomplishments aimed mainly at his core supporters and mainly focused on economic issues. At the level of structure, it was much like many State of the Union addresses in recent decades.

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10:29 PM: This is fun. Quick TPM staff takes on the speech. Check it out.

10:04 PM: This is a completely false statement: “The third pillar ends the Visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.”

9:55 PM: This was likely the peak trolling portion of the speech. “My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”

9:52 PM: Pretty straightforward message here: we need to radically reduce immigration into the United States – both legal and illegal – because if we don’t innocent children will be murdered.

9:50 PM: Now we’re at the part of the speech where we have a ritual incitement against undocumented immigrants through the recitation of a horrific murder. All evidence shows that the native born commit crimes of violence at higher rates than immigrants, legal and undocumented.

9:47 PM: Lord, this picture …

during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. width=

9:42 PM: “Our nation has lost its wealth, but we’re getting it back so fast.”

9:41 PM: In this speech so far, we have the standard Trumpian invocations of reverence for soldiers and police officers as expressed by reverence for the flag as the pinnacle of what it means to be an American. I’ll come back to that. I think it’s a critically important issue to discuss. But the speech itself, the structure and tone, seems quite conventional – a recitation of goals and accomplishments aimed at supporters.

This is a wild, amazing story. The head of LULAC, the Latino civil rights group, sent President Trump a letter basically endorsing Trump’s immigration plan. Apparently no one else in the organization, not staff or the board, had any idea what he was doing. Alice Ollstein has the story.