Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

It’s Time To Get Focused on a 2022 Election Pledge Prime Badge

Sens. Warren and Smith have an OpEd in the Times today in which they say at the bottom of a lengthy and quite good article …

Ask every Senate candidate to commit to reforming the filibuster rules, so that the chamber can pass federal legislation protecting the right to reproductive freedom. If voters help us maintain our control of the House and expand our majority in the Senate by at least two votes this November, we can make Roe the law all across the country as soon as January.

Great. But for any of this to happen you are going to need at least a few Senators to get the ball rolling. And getting the ball rolling means making a clear bumper sticker like pledge and goading colleagues to sign on. It has to be at the top of the article not at the bottom of a laundry list at the end.

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The Current Court is Sunk in Corruption, Just Like Fox News
White House/Supreme Court

The modern conservative judicial movement always had abortion and the reversal of Roe v Wade as its central empowering goal. Many intellectuals and activists had different political and goals. But those often esoteric and complex goals were never what powered the politics and the appointments. That was always abortion. When white evangelicals made their pact with the scofflaw libertine Trump, it wasn’t about “takings” or delegation or “originalism.” It was about abortion. So today represents a victory for the conservative judicial movement, later embodied in The Federalist Society, that was five decades in the making.

There are many observers who despise the results but yet still grant the legwork. There was a liberal Court that made all sorts of liberal decisions, the story goes. Conservatives didn’t like that. So they got organized and changed it. Liberals did it first and then conservatives did it.

But that story was never really quite right.

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And There It is

So there it is. Entirely expected and yet still shocking to see in the full light of day. As I wrote last month here and reiterated in this Times oped earlier this month, this is the one path to reviving Roe’s protections. Get 48 Senators on the record clearly and publicly promising to pass a Roe law in January 2023 and change the filibuster rules to make that possible. That puts abortion rights and Roe protections clearly on the ballot. It’s not a certain path by any means. But it is certainly the only path available right now.

Addendum: I had pulled back a bit on trying to figure out just where every senator stood because as long as the decision wasn’t 100% official it was premature. Premature in the sense that it wasn’t really possible for voters to apply maximum pressure. Now’s the time.

How We Know When It’s Serious

The list of federal law enforcement searches on Wednesday, most of which came to light during yesterday’s blockbuster Jan 6th testimony, should remind us of a critical point. The exercise of the law is not simply a matter of finding crimes and prosecuting criminals. It also has a profound signaling effect. It is how society speaks to itself about what is and is not acceptable behavior. Even now I find even myself a bit surprised seeing this drama escalate to morning FBI raids, seizure of electronic devices and more. But of course that’s what happens when people commit serious crimes. In key ways that is how we are conditioned to know what is serious and what is not, what we collectively as a society view as a grave offense. When that doesn’t happen, especially for those not following the details, we assume – and not unreasonably – that it is just politics.

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Notes #2

For most of us this is not new information. But the testimony late this afternoon brings out in a particularly vivid way how little Trump cared about the fate of the country or the constitution or really anything else besides what he saw as his own political well-being. That’s clear enough. But beyond that he had a hard time even understanding the question. “What do I have to lose?” the President asked, according to the participants in the Oval Office meeting. It’s basically, why not burn the country down? What do I have to lose?

Again, this is not a surprise to most of us. But I haven’t seen it captured so vividly.


Point 1: If you’re watching the hearings today, consider and remember this: Let’s give these guys credit. They’re conservatives. Trump appointees. But they held the line. They refused to play ball under a lot of pressure. But authorizing law enforcement investigations of palpably absurd stories is itself really, really bad. That’s the basis of the great majority of law enforcement corruption: standing up bogus investigations to impugn the reputations or otherwise hurt people. That’s really bad on many, many fronts. In the situation in which these guys found themselves I think there’s a good argument that they went with the least bad option. But that option is itself really, really bad.

Point 2: One of the things we’re seeing today is this effort to stock new unknown loyalists into the executive departments after it was already clear the President had lost and that it was a lame duck administration. We’ve known a lot of this story. But we found out significantly more today. The only time this happens in normal situations is that you sometimes have caretaker appointees come in because the top appointee leaves before the President’s last day in office. Sometimes it’s simply to burnish someones future resume. They can say they were “acting such and such” for a brief time. Not great maybe but essentially no harm. But it doesn’t work like this. When they were already only in a caretaker role they were restocking the departments to further the coup.

But here’s another point. It wasn’t only at DOJ. There was something very similar happening at the Pentagon. Those new appointees don’t seem to have played direct roles in the coup as it played, though I think that’s still an open question. But it sure seemed like they might at the time. At the end of the day coups almost always come down to control of the armed forces.


ABC is reporting that federal agents searched former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark’s home yesterday morning.

Maybe There Will Be Coup Prosecutions Prime Badge
Giuliani, Powell

This and other articles are among the first I’ve seen that make me think there will be prosecutions of individuals involved in the attempted 2020 presidential election coup. This one is from the Post and reports a new round of subpoenas and what appear to be court-ordered searches of various individuals involved in the “fake elector” scheme. Let me note a couple points about that part of the coup conspiracy.

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Johnson is Beatable Prime Badge

Ron Johnson has managed to win two elections in Wisconsin – both of which were races Democrats were optimistic about winning. But this new poll number out of Wisconsin is pretty striking on a number of counts.

Here are the numbers.

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