John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

Join us at 8 p.m. for live coverage of tonight’s Democratic debate. Josh Marshall will be writing here in the ed blog, and TPM staff will be on hand with a liveblog for members and coverage of tonight’s notable moments.

Hello TPM members and welcome to the weekend.

With signs of a recession on the horizon, Trump is trying to make sure that Americans don’t blame him — especially at the ballot box in 2020. For now, Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell is a convenient target.

Here’s what happened in Prime this week.

  • Arizona’s Republican attorney general is staffing up a new “election integrity” unit. David Kurtz writes that it’s part of a “vicious cycle where those making bogus voter fraud claims (including the president himself) create an environment where ‘confidence’ becomes an issue, and elected officials respond to the supposed climate of concern. It basically rewards those making the most outlandish bad faith voter fraud claims.”
  • A state official in Oregon says that a weekly newspaper is coming after him due to a personal vendetta. The newspaper says it’s just doing its job.
  • Court filings this week gave us a look at where the New York attorney general’s investigation into the NRA might be headed.
  • Mark Halperin and Judith Regan cash in on outrage.
  • Josh Marshall reviews a study that shows higher rates of aggression in the American South.
  • Another official spins through the revolving door between the White House and Fox News.
  • When it comes to election security, Georgia isn’t doing so hot, according to a federal judge.
  • Chris Murphy thinks there’s a chance Trump will still act on gun control. Is that true?
  • Mueller’s probe is over, but his case against the Russian trolls may still go to trial.

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We’ve heard some wild stories about former Trump business associate Felix Sater over the years. Not only did he try to help Trump build a tower in Moscow; not only did he promise to “get Putin on this program” in order to “get Donald elected” — he also was an FBI informant? And also, supposedly, helped track down Osama bin Laden? And imprison mafiosos? It strained credulity.

A newly surfaced government document confirms that many of these stories are, in fact, true. Matt Shuham writes up the highlights for TPM members.

A number of indicators are suggesting a recession is on the horizon. That, of course, could have a huge impact on the presidential election — especially if the slowdown arrives during or close to autumn 2020.

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Hello TPM Members and welcome to the weekend,

Two mass shootings within a few hours of each other last weekend underscored just how insane it is that we live this way, prompting a week of wondering if anything will change this time, when it hasn’t so many times before. Here’s some of what happened in Prime.

Hello TPM Members and welcome to the weekend.

We made it through another round of Democratic debates and Rep. John Ratcliffe, who Trump announced as the next Director of National Intelligence at the start of the week, had pulled himself out of the running by the end of it.

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Elizabeth Warren distinguished herself, as usual, for her ideas. She was helped by debate moderators who seemed to like asking the other candidates to comment on Warren’s proposals. Her attack on John Delaney is likely to be talked about tomorrow: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”
After a largely unmemorable first debate, Bernie Sanders came out swinging this time, not hesitating to call out his debate-stage rivals and even the moderators. For a significant, early part of the debate, he and Warren together defended their ambitious health care plans. Notably, he and Warren did not turn on one another, as many pundits predicted.
Tim Ryan didn’t get much time, and his efforts to distinguish himself as a guy from a Trump-voting state didn’t come to the forefront. He did draw one of the many rebukes Sanders was dishing out: At one point, when he questioned whether Medicare For All would deliver certain services for senior citizens — “you don’t know that, Bernie” — Sanders replied, “I do know it, I wrote the damn bill.”
Beto O’Rourke continues to struggle to gain traction after his initial burst of attention. He did, however, seem to come prepared to talk policy on such issues as health care and reparations, perhaps in an effort to combat what some have claimed is a lack of depth.
Tonight was many viewers’ first introduction to Steve Bullock. He was given a lot of time and staked out his territory as the One Guy On The Stage Who Won Statewide In A Trump State.
Amy Klobucher stood out among the more moderate candidates, distinguishing herself with a denunciation of the NRA. She attempted to frame herself as a champion of the working class, speaking of her Iron Range upbringing
John Hickenlooper was in many ways upstaged by new entrant and fellow governor Steve Bullock. He didn’t get much time, but, with the time he got, it seemed clear he had pivoted away from attacks on Democrats to his left. He said he “respects” Warren and Sanders. What Hickenlooper had pivoted to was less clear.
John Delaney adopted the posture of debate pit bull right from the start, calling out Sanders and Warren by name. Moderators seemed to frame him as the token centrist, playing him off various candidates to his left, which had the effect of giving him the major-candidate treatment (he’s tied in the polls with de Blasio.)
Pete Buttigieg didn’t do much to help or hurt himself this time around. We noted his references to, and the question he got about, his relatively young age. (Given the opportunity by a moderator, he declined to criticize Sanders’ age.) He also, as part of a conversation about countering the gun lobby, laid out some changes he’d seek to democracy: ending the Electoral College, making Washington, D.C., a state and changing the number of seats on the Supreme Court.
After being accused of being too wacky back in June, Marianne Williamson was on firmer ground tonight. Sort of. Her self-help style wavers between a breath of fresh air on the debate stage and weird. She did get some big applause lines, notably when talking about environmental racism in Flint.

Nicole Lafond wrote last week that, for House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mueller’s testimony may have been something of an audition. The President had soured on Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; he was considering replacements. He asked Nunes to give his opinion on various candidates, but, according to Politico, Nunes himself was also a candidate for the job.

He didn’t get the gig — because, it now turns out, another member of Congress was auditioning that day, and outshone him. 

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Hello TPM Members, and welcome to the weekend.

We heard from Mueller this week, though we didn’t hear much.

Looking ahead to next week, we’ve got another two-day, 20-candidate round of Democratic debates.

Here’s what happened at Prime:

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“House Democrats have spent the last two years waiting for someone else to solve the Trump conundrum,” career federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne writes for Cafe.

What became clear Wednesday is that there is no savior here, no knight in shining armor is going to ride in and save the day. It is now up to them, and to them alone, to determine whether they follow the polls or whether they follow the evidence.

Read her post at Cafe.