Editor’s Blog

LOL

Julian Assange hacked the Ecuadorean Embassy’s computer network as his relationship with his host’s deteriorated.

Israel at 70, Ivanka and Jared in Jerusalem, and Carnage in Gaza

When I start railing about Israel’s government — he’s “Netanyahoo” as far as I am concerned — some of my co-religionists chide me for singling out Israel and exempting Putin’s Russia or Xi Jinping’s China from my complaints. My usual reply is that as a Jew I feel morally complicit in what Israel’s government does; I don’t feel that way about what Putin or Xi does.

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Stay Up to Date

Here are your Weekly Primers on Voting Rights and Democracy and the Battle for Obamacare (Prime access). Take three minutes a week to read these Primers and you will always be up to date and know what to expect.

Yep, That $500 M from China to Trump Project Looks Like a Pretty Big Deal

You probably saw the news yesterday that just days before President Trump tweeted that he was intent on saving that sanctions-busting Chinese telecommunications company, China had agreed to loan $500 million to a major Trump-backed development in Indonesia. These kinds of situations are now basically commonplace in the Trump Era. But it is important to look at them from a macro- and a micro-perspective. The details are quite complex in the latter case. We are still digging into them. But I wanted to give you a first sense of what we’re finding, because they make Trump’s connection to the operation and potential profits look considerably tighter than what I’d been led to expect yesterday from early reports. Read More

‘Vision and Honor’: The Eric Greitens Myth Prime Badge
Trump Moonwalks Away From Pledge to Denuclearize North Korea

From the outset, there was little reason to think that North Korea would agree to surrender its nuclear weapons and the infrastructure and labs required to build them. If we set aside the never-very-plausible idea that the Kims are madmen intent on prepping some secular apocalyptic nuclear confrontation with the U.S., a more prosaic, rational strategy becomes clear: build a credible nuclear deterrent, thus making military-backed regime change unthinkable. Then reach an accommodation with the U.S. from a position of strength and fundamental equality. Such an agreement might involve restrictions on nuclear weapons development, limits on numbers of warheads. But fundamentally it would mean accepting North Korea as a nuclear power. Read More

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Michael Cohen leaves Federal Court after his hearing on the FBI raid of his hotel room and office on April 16, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
She’s a ‘Little Bit of a Victim Here’
on February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland.

The Schlapps are one of the great power couples of the Trump Era. She’s a top communications staffer at the White House — Mercedes Schlapp. He’s the head of CPAC and a major pro-Trump talking head on CNN — Matt Schlapp. Both are longtime lobbyists and DC power players. They made a stir for making a great show of walking out of the White House Correspondents Dinner early on their way to hit the after parties, allegedly as a splashy protest over “elites” at the dinner and comedian Michelle Wolf. The two apparently tweeted their outrage from a limo on the way to the NBC afterparty. “It’s why America hates the out of touch leftist media elite,” wrote Mercedes Schlapp.

Now the two have garnered attention as the most conspicuous defenders of Kelly Sadler, the White House staffer who reportedly joked about John McCain’s terminal illness. Read More

Trump Compared to Cyrus the Great

Fox Host Jeanine Pirro says Donald Trump fulfilled biblical prophecy by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Coming Up On An Important Benchmark

We are currently coming up on an important benchmark in our move to becoming majority subscription funded news organization. We are 197 short of 27,000 paid subscribers.

Wow, That’s Totally Right

TPM Reader DV wrote in this morning with what I have to say is a completely obvious point that totally eluded me. There are twenty different ways Michael Cohen’s apparent shakedown of various Fortune 500 companies is sleazy. There are a handful of ways it might break the law. But there’s another pretty big problem I at least haven’t seen explicitly mentioned. Read More

Good F’ing Grief

A lawyer has come forward who claims he spoke indirectly to Donald Trump (via an intermediary) and directly to Michael Cohen in 2013 about abuse allegations against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Trump Clearly Wants More Than Two Terms Prime Badge
Big Collateral Damage at AT&T
attends the grand opening of the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment & Policy on January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC.

CNBC just reported that AT&T CEO Randal Stephenson is calling hiring Michael Cohen a “big mistake. They are also reporting that their Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, is ‘retiring’. That long title means head of their DC office, where lobbying and all government-facing activities are run out of. Here’s the critical backstory. Jim Cicconi, Quinn’s predecessor, had been in that position for about a decade and was a real player in the DC/Government Relations world. He only left about a year and a half ago. In other words, Quinn just showed up and now he’s out, apparently as fallout from the Michael Cohen debacle. Read More

TPM Editorial Staff Forms a Union

This morning I was coming into work after attending my son’s school play and got an email from our editorial staff in DC and NY telling me they’d unanimously agreed to form a union and asking if I would voluntarily recognize their decision. The email was signed “Sincerely, TPM union.” I confess it was novel experience hearing from someone else identifying themselves as ‘TPM’. But I replied that I was happy to do so. I had our lawyer reach out to the WGA, East to formalize that agreement. And that was that.

This afternoon the new TPM Union put out a statement announcing the formation of their union and our agreement to recognize the union. They also asked me for a statement from TPM which they could include in their press release, which I was of course happy to do.

I publish their press release here in its entirety below. Read More

Worse Than You Think

Tierney Sneed talked to past White House lawyers to get a sense of where President Trump’s legal defense has gone farthest off the rails – and why. The irony, of course, is that the person least served by the tumult is Trump himself. Worth your time.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, takes a phone call near the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
The Great Discomfiture

One of the silent joys – perhaps not so silent – of the Cohen chapter of the Trump/Russia scandal is observing the discomfiture of big corporations getting dragged into the endlessly sleazy, moronically corrupt world of Michael Cohen. Sources at AT&T insisted they didn’t pay Cohen for access to the President but rather for “actual work done.” No doubt. But the best explanation for hiring Michael Cohen has to go to Korea Aerospace Industries, a firm trying to land a major contract with the Pentagon. They say they hired Cohen “to inform reorganization of our internal accounting system.”

Listen To This

If you’re interested in who Michael Cohen is, how he came to work for Donald Trump, where his money comes from and what network is behind him, you need to listen to this new episode of my podcast. I know that sounds like a high-pressure sale. But trust me: I consider myself a premier Cohen-ologist. But Seth Hettena knew and knows way more than I did not just about Cohen but Trump’s whole universe of Russian/Ukrainian organized crime associates and partners. And he’s got a new book that came out just yesterday. Listen to this episode right here or subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

Michael Cohen’s Lawyers Respond

Michael Cohen’s lawyers have now responded to Michael Avenatti’s information in a scathing filing to Judge Kimba Wood. It’s mainly pounding the table. But they do seem to have found some errors. So let’s go through the details.
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Pay for Play in the Trump Era, To the Soundtrack to Goodfellas
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, walks to the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

In some ways the more fascinating aspect of the fallout from yesterday’s Michael Cohen revelations is seeing Fortune 500 companies struggle to explain how and why they found themselves connected, albeit simply through a shell company, with the President’s payoffs to Stormy Daniels and his fixer’s pay-offs from a Russian oligarch. I think the evolving Novartis story is going to be a good example of the difference between the press release business press and the national political press in full scandal mode. Novartis’s explanation simply makes zero sense – it’s telling that they thought it would survive first contact with any scrutiny. I suspect we’ll find out that that’s the case because it’s a hastily contrived cover story. Even now, the story seems to be evolving toward a more plausible and problematic destination.

Here’s Novartis’s official explanation. Read More

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's attorney, walks to the Loews Regency hotel on Park Ave on April 13, 2018 in New York City. Following FBI raids on his home, office and hotel room, the Department of Justice announced that they are placing him under criminal investigation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Can’t Get Enough Mueller Probe News?

There’s an interesting twist that takes center stage today. Tierney Sneed previews it for Prime subscribers.

Where’d He Get The Cash?

Before tonight’s stunning revelations, we looked at why Donald Trump started paying cash in 2006. And we think we know the answer. Here’s Episode #12 of The Josh Marshall Podcast.