Editor’s Blog

The Barr Letter Under The Microscope

We might get the Mueller Report one day, but so far all we can work with is Attorney General William Barr’s four-page letter. As analysts spend time parsing the letter, the stranger it seems.

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After Mueller, Congress Has To Step Up To The Plate

As Trump and his supporters take a victory lap over Attorney General Bill Barr’s letter summing up the Mueller report, it’s worth noting that claims of “total and complete exoneration” (in the words of press secretary Sarah Sanders) are at odds with what the letter actually says.

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Incoming…

It appears Attorney General Bill Barr will be submitting a summary report of special counsel Mueller’s findings to Congress within the next hour.

The Mueller Report Will Now Be A Political Battle

The much anticipated moment is here. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr. Now the fate of report becomes a profoundly political matter. In a letter to congress, Barr promises he’ll advise Congress about the report perhaps as early as the weekend. But Barr has tremendous discretion as to how much he can tell Congress or the public.

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At Long Last?

First indications that Mueller report has been delivered to Barr.

No indications that anything substantive is about to be released publicly.

Late Update: Attorney General Bill Barr in a letter CNN read on the air is telling Congress he may be able to provide it with more information as early as this weekend.

Pound, Politics and Poetry

The global revival of fascism and white nationalism has gotten me re-reading some of the writers part of the original fascist wave, especially the American poet Ezra Pound. Pound remains at the center of an unsettled debate about the relationship between art and politics. Living in Italy from 1924 to 1945, Pound was a full-on enthusiast for the regime of Benito Mussolini, even broadcasting on its behalf while Italy was at war with the United States. After the war, Pound only avoided being charged with treason by being judged insane. He was institutionalized at St. Elizabeths hospital in Washington from 1945 until 1958.

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Stephen Moore’s Record

Trump likes to hire people based on TV appearances and the announced nomination of Stephen Moore to join the Federal Reserve board is no different. Moore has long been a cable news staple. His record in that medium is worth reviewing,

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Rudy Outdoes Himself

This morning the president’s lawyer tweeted:

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We Need To See Fox For What It Is

I’ve been thinking more about why Donna Brazile’s decision to join Fox News as a contributor bothers me so much. The core problem is normalization. She was hired so that Fox News could pretend to be a mainstream media outlet that provides diverse viewpoints.

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The E-Mail Scandal Goes Well Beyond Javanka

Reports that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump haven’t been complying with security and record keeping regulations naturally provokes Democrats to cry hypocrisy, given the outsized attention Hillary Clinton’s emails received in the 2016 election. But as eagle-eyed blogger Marcy Wheeler notes, the power couple is merely the most public manifestation of a much more pervasive problem.

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Biden’s Desperate Gambit

The New York Times, among others, is reporting that Joe Biden and his advisors are trying to come up with ways to address voter concerns about his age if he enters the Democratic presidential primaries: “Mr. Biden and his top advisers are considering nodding to the rising next generation in Democratic politics — and elevating an heir — by announcing a running mate early, well before the nomination is sealed. Also under discussion is a possible pledge to serve only one term and framing Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign as a one-time rescue mission for a beleaguered country, according to multiple party officials.” Stacey Abrams has been named as a possible running mate.

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Compare and contrast

How New Zealand handles one mass shooting:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand on Thursday announced a national ban on all military-style semiautomatic weapons, all high-capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns used to kill 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch last week.

“What we’re banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” she said, adding: “It’s about all of us, it’s in the national interest and it’s about safety.”

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Is The McCain Attack Just A Distraction?

President Trump’s continuous badmouthing of the late Senator John McCain dominated headlines on Wednesday. The words were certainly bonkers even by Trump’s standards. “I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which as President I had to approve,” Trump said, falsely. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank-you, that’s okay. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

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Donna Brazile And The Fox Problem

Donna Brazile, one of the preeminent political strategist in the Democratic Party and twice interim head of the DNC, is jumping on the Fox News ship, becoming a contributing writer for the right-wing cable news network. In an interview with Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker, Brazile was asked how she could reconcile her strong progressive politics with working for a network that often functions like the propaganda wing of the Republican party and is sometimes openly racist.

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Trump’s Stonewall Strategy

We have every reason to believe that Donald Trump is the most corrupt American president since at least Warren Harding and perhaps ever. The fact that his adult sons continue to manage his business while serving as informal White House advisors is itself a major scandal. A big reason for wanting the Democrats to win back the House of Representatives in 2018 was the promise that they would do the work of oversight that the congressional GOP had avoided. But now that congressional oversight is here, we’ve entered a period of unprecedented stonewalling.

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New Heights Of Folly

Maybe it’s just a matter of degree, but I’m not sure I’ve seen President Trump contrast as starkly as he did today his own legitimacy (63 million votes/304 electoral votes in 2016!) with what he portrays as the utter illegitimacy of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller (“never got a vote!” as Trump put it).

His attacks on the rule of law are legion at this point, but watch him today and see if he doesn’t have a heightened sense of urgency and an alarming new tone.

We Can Ignore The Iraq War Dead-Enders

Ari Fleischer has taken to Twitter to defend his former boss George W. Bush from accusations of lying America into the Iraq War. As Matt Shuham amply shows elsewhere on TPM, Fleischer was quickly and thoroughly demolished by critics. Fleisher’s hapless performance got me thinking about how the debate over the Iraq War, the most consequential American foreign policy decision in the last fifty years, is now over.

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Keep An Eye On The Jeffrey Epstein Case

The Miami Herald, which has been doing stellar reporting on this story, has found more evidence on the bizarrely light sentence Jeffrey Epstein was given in 2008 for soliciting prostitution from underage girls. According to the newspaper, “The lawyer for the 16-year-old girl who state prosecutors now say was the victim attached to the mysterious plea deal given to multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein says neither he nor his client was ever informed that it was her case that ended Epstein’s prosecution.”

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White House Interns are Superheroes

Martha Gimbel used to work at the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and has noticed that a new report for the CEA has some unusual interns:

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Paul Ryan Moves Up In The Company

In 2010, David Frum observed that, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”

I was reminded of Frum’s quip when I heard that former House Speaker Paul Ryan was joining the board of directors of Fox Corporation, the newly streamlined parent company of the right-wing news outlet.

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Trump And Bolsonaro Start A Beautiful Friendship

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is often described as the Latin American Trump, an identification that Trump himself seemed to endorse in today’s press conference. “We have many views that are similar,” Trump enthused. The President was so pleased that he suggested, in a bizarre off-the-cuff remark, that Brazil might possibly become “a NATO ally.”

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