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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

In an otherwise off the wall press conference today with the President Iohannis of Romania, President Trump agreed, after more hemming and hawing, to pledge his support for Article #5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – the essential provision which commits each member of NATO to the common defense of all. But there was another part of Trump’s comments which I’ve seen less mention of. Trump said not only that NATO members must get to the 2 percent of GDP expenditure on defense goal, which itself was only recently agreed to. He suggested that countries not spending 2 percent of GDP might have to pay the US back for previous underpayment.

Here’s the key passage …

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We are finishing up the first week of our annual Prime membership sign up drive. As I’ve told you, it’s a very important part of our future as a publication. Yet the rush of news over the last week has made it actually fairly difficult for me to find moments to hassle you to sign up in the Editors’ Blog. It’s reasonable to say that Donald Trump has taken positive acts to obstruct the progress of our membership drive. With that context, if you haven’t yet subscribed to TPM, I would ask you to do so now. Yes, pulling out your wallet and typing in credit card information is a hassle. I always want to put it off too. But really, think of the context and please take a moment and sign up now.

There’s a very interesting article published this morning about Michael Cohen in Buzzfeed. Like many articles on Cohen, Trump, Russia and related matters, it’s a bit of a jigsaw piece. There’s a lot of information the full import of which is hard to make sense of without knowing a lot of other information about broader story.

Let’s review a few points.

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One of the least remarked upon – but I think most significant – parts of James Comey’s testimony yesterday was about the nature of the assurance he gave President Trump about whether he was the subject of the investigation. I think it sheds some important light on the nature of the investigation and – I suspect – why Comey was reluctant to make it public.

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Let me share a few thoughts on the Comey testimony.

First, for all the build-up, for all the drama, it was perhaps somewhat less earth-shattering than some imagined. I think that was largely because Comey covered most of the key points in his prepared testimony. That storm hit yesterday afternoon, dissipating some of today’s drama.

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A former federal prosecutor sends in this note.

May 9, 2017: CNN reports that grand jury subpoenas have been issued in Flynn investigation.

May 9, 2017: Trump fires Comey.

Did Trump find out about the subpoenas and continued investigation before the decision to fire Comey? This could be a key fact for Mueller’s team to determine. If Trump was telling Comey to let Flynn go and then he finds out that, rather than letting him go, subpoenas start flying, that would be compelling evidence of intent to obstruct. Mueller will have to dig into internal White House communications (emails, texts, meetings) about what Trump knew about the Flynn investigation, when he knew it, and what he was saying about it to those in his orbit. Given what he was saying to Comey, you would have to imagine that he was saying a lot more to his inner circle.

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We just heard Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, give his response to James Comey’s testimony. I think it confirms what I wrote yesterday: that President Trump was making a big mistake bringing in his bully lawyer from New York who he uses to ambush business partners and discredit women with accusations to try to handle a big federal investigation. Kasowitz is another version of Michael Cohen, only with a real legal practice. There’s nothing like this kind of investigation. Neither he nor Trump have any experience grappling with anyone like this. It’s not surprising and it may be wise for Trump not to get a DC establishment lawyer. But those folks have experience this Kasowitz quite clearly doesn’t.

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12:44 PM: Everyone watching saw the same thing I did. So I’ll leave it with only this comment. But that exchange between James Comey and Sen. McCain was very worrisome and disturbing.

12:36 PM: I am deeply confused about Sen. McCain’s line of questioning. It certainly sounds like he has some major confusion about what’s being discussed.

12:28 PM: Good for Sen. Reed to point out that, contrary to Sen. Cornyn’s ridiculous line of questioning, Trump thought he’d removed the pressure by firing Comey.

12:21 PM: This is quite an amazing line of questioning from Sen. Cornyn, who has been one of most slavish of President Trump’s lickspittles.

12:15 PM: We may all be projecting. But I think that was a highly probable and reasonable reaction from AG Sessions.

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