EDITORS’ BLOG

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More With Jack Goldsmith

Jack Goldsmith was kind enough to engage with my reply to his piece on potential criminal investigations of Donald Trump. Here’s his reply to mine. I’m going to take some time to work through the points Goldsmith makes. But I will try to address them in another post that I’ll publish soon. One immediate thought I had on a cursory read was that Goldsmith rightly makes a distinction between potential crimes committed while a person is president and things that come after. But it seems to me that one of the key complexities and unique dangers of Trump is that he is not allowing us that neat distinction. Much of his wrongdoing is continuous from one phase to the next. Indeed, in the last couple days he has grown increasingly explicit in threatening to retaliate against Garland, Biden, et al., in a hypothetical future term as President. In any case, more soon.

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Where Things Stand: Pence’s Strategic Toe-Dipping

Former Vice President Mike Pence is walking a sort of unprecedented fine line — saying a bunch of stuff that’s just subtly enough at odds with Trump that he makes headlines, but not so harsh in breaking with Trump that he Cheneys himself.

At least two of his remarks today provided an excellent example of this.

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Barnes Up In Wisconsin

We’ve known that Wisconsin would be a key Senate battleground this year. But until just recently we didn’t know who the Democratic nominee was. Now we know it’s Democrat Mandela Barnes, who had essentially cleared the field by the time of the primary vote. A new Marquette Law poll just came out — this is Charles Franklin’s poll, which is the premium in-state poll. It shows Barnes up by seven points over Johnson 51%-44%. In June the same poll found a 46%-44% race. That difference is likely a mix of shifting electoral landscape and Barnes consolidating potential supporters after the primary ended.

I do not count Johnson out. He’s won two straight elections he was not expected to win, both against former Sen. Russ Feingold. He’s a canny and able politician. But unless this poll is a significant outlier Wisconsin looks like the strong pick up opportunity Democrats were hoping for. For an incumbent to be running behind a challenger who has crossed the 50% threshold is a perilous place to be.

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Where Things Stand: Scott Escalates ‘87,000 New Armed IRS Agents’ Conspiracy Theory

This is your TPM evening briefing.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) pulled a publicity stunt this afternoon by releasing an open letter addressed to the “American Job Seeker” warning anyone who might be considering applying for a gig at the Internal Revenue Service that they need not apply.

That’s because, in his telling, any new funding being funneled into the agency after the passage of Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act will be reversed if Republicans take back Congress after the Midterms. Vowing to gut the agency once Republicans are back in power, Scott referred to any new job openings at the IRS — after the Democratic bill allocated $80 billion in additional funding for the agency, in part to help with staffing shortages — as a “short-term gig.”

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One Vague Reference

The Times has a story disclosing the fact that investigators have interviewed both Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and his Deputy Patrick Philbin in their classified documents inquiry. That’s not surprising. The two were also originally tasked with liaising with the National Archives on Trump’s behalf. But it does clarify one thing. If Trump had really had the “standing order” about documents he took home automatically becoming declassified, such an order would certainly have gone through the Counsel’s office. Obviously that never happened and we can infer that investigators know that as a fact directly from these two men.

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Rubio Could Be In Trouble

A new poll shows Val Demmings leading Marco Rubio by 4 percentage points. (University of North Florida, Demings 48%, Rubio 44%.) I suspect that this poll is an outlier. But it is actually on trend, with a group of recent polls showing a relatively close race. It’s the first independent poll of the race in a month and the first real known-quantity poll since the beginning of 2022. Given the rightward drift of Florida, I would not be getting my hopes up that this is a Democratic pick up. But it is a strong indication that this is a seat Republicans will have to fight to hold on to. Indeed, I suspect some of retrenchment from races in Arizona and Pennsylvania we mentioned yesterday is to defend seats like these.

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Fun Times in TrumpLand 

The articles that make you feel the best are the ones to be most skeptical of. But with that said, this article in The Guardian certainly brought a smile to my face and satisfied a need for a schadenfreude fix. A federal judge will now decide whether to release some portions of the affidavit in support of the search of Mar-a-Lago. There’s the warrant and the inventory, both of which the target gets to see. It’s the affidavit that lays out why are we doing this; why is it important; what larger schemes are we investigating that requires us to go into this home and look for stuff.

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Weisselberg Nearing Plea But Won’t Cooperate

The Times is reporting that Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg is nearing a plea deal with prosecutors in Manhattan. But the deal apparently does not include cooperating with the broader investigation into Donald Trump and his business. With a guilty plea and time served Weisselberg will likely spend roughly three months in jail.

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Better Late Than Never? As the laggardly Justice Department played catchup to the Jan. 6 committee probe, a federal grand jury back in May subpoenaed the National Archives for all the records it had turned over to the House committee in its parallel investigation. The NYT has the subpoena.

Happening Today: A federal judge in Florida is scheduled to hear arguments today over whether the FBI affidavit in support of the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago should be unsealed and made public.

Pence Walks A Thin Blue Line: The former vice president urged congressional Republicans raging about the Mar-a-Lago raid to direct their ire at Merrick Garland and not rank and file law enforcement: “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”

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The Josh marshall podcast

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Ep. 236: Trump’s Enemies Face Voters

Josh and Kate discuss the primaries in Wyoming and Alaska, along with news that the Republican Senate campaign arm is redistributing money away from some key states.

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