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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We're not three weeks into the Trump presidency. It remains difficult to piece together the trends above the chaos and tergiversations of each successive day. But one trend should be in the process of becoming clear. Going into the Trump presidency the President and congressional Republicans promised an ambitious legislative agenda. And fast. At one point Paul Ryan suggested that Obamacare repeal and Medicare phaseout might start on inauguration day. In any case, few needed to be convinced. Republicans had unified control of the federal government and almost a decade of pent-up appetite for dramatic change - Obamacare repeal, corporate tax reform, a major income tax cut, repeal of Dodd-Frank, possibly privatization of major social insurance programs like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and more. And yet less than a month in, progress on Capitol Hill has slowed dramatically. President Trump meanwhile seems almost entirely focused on a steady stream of executive orders. These two developments are not unrelated. It looks very much like President Trump has found his presidential comfort-zone: rule by decree.

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This morning President Trump went on Twitter to claim that Sen. Richard Blumenthal was essentially lying when he repeated Judge Gorsuch's critical comments about the President.

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Let me start by saying that I fully expect that if Democrats filibuster President Trump's nomination of Judge Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Republicans will abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and confirm him on a party line vote. I do not see this as a surprise or even necessarily a bad thing inasmuch as the filibuster was effectively abolished in 2005. Back then Democrats entered into an agreement with Republicans not to filibuster now-Chief Justice John Roberts in exchange for not abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments. In other words, the Supreme Court filibuster has only existed as a mirage for more than a decade. So absent some disqualifying revelation I fully expect Gorsuch to be confirmed.

But something happened today that will make his confirmation process considerably interesting than I'd anticipated.

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I've been saying for months that the language of 'conflicts of interest' for President Trump is entirely inadequate and frankly silly. The concept of a conflict of interest is one that speaks to a situation in which an overlap or conflict between an individual's personal and professional or public interests makes it impossible for that individual to act in an ethical manner or to appear to be doing so. It has no meaning when the actor - in this case, the President - is openly using his office for personal profit. In other words, it has no meaning when the President refuses to recognize any difference between his public responsibilities and his personal and familial business interests, the state and himself. He recognizes no conflict. Indeed, there isn't one. President Trump is openly using his office to become the billionaire he always wanted to be. And now his Press Secretary has said as much.

Just a few moments ago, Sean Spicer said that Nordstrom's decision to drop Trump's daughter's eponymous clothing line constitutes a political attack on the President and he is within his rights to retaliate.

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I don't know the particulars of the new Intel plant in Arizona that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich just announced with President Trump from the Oval Office. But I have followed the DC tech advocacy conversation for many years. And Intel does roughly 75% of its manufacturing in the United States and this has always been, not surprisingly, a key part of its corporate advocacy and marketing in the US. It thus seems highly likely that if Intel saw demand for more product it would choose to manufacture them in the United States.

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This afternoon, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told CNN's Jake Tapper that President Trump's false statements are less important than the "many things he says that are true." But this prompted an immediate debate within TPM. Was Conway saying that the true things Trump says are simply much more important than the false things? Or was she saying that the overall ratio was good? Like net more true statements than false statements or something like a batting average? Here's Conway. What do you think?

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