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

Michigan wants to attach work requirements to Medicaid. But its plan for how to implement the requirements is under fire for favoring the state’s rural, white, poor over poor residents of color in urban areas. Alice Ollstein has more in our Weekly Primer on the battle over the future of Obamacare (Prime access), which rounds up all of this week’s developments on the health care front.

We’re there, Prime subscribers. Welcome to the weekend. Here’s what happened in Prime.

  • America was reintroduced to President Trump’s former personal doctor this week, who said the President’s body guard, a Trump organization lawyer, and a “large man” raided his office. Josh Marshall explains why this story is a big deal.
  • Alice Ollstein writes in her Weekly Primer on Obamacare that a Republican governor and a Republican candidate for governor are refusing to expand Medicaid even if voters choose to do so via ballot referendum.
  • Zack Roth writes about what it means for individual voters he’s met that a federal appeals court upheld Texas’s voter ID law last week. And, in our Weekly Primer on voting rights, I write that a voter ID law in Arkansas has been blocked by a court days before the state’s primaries begin.
  • Rudy Giuliani introduced himself to cable news audiences as Trump’s new lawyer this week. Josh Marshall writes that his Wednesday interview with Sean Hannity, and Trump’s reaction to it, made Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit dramatically more viable. David Taintor rounded up how cable news reacted to the interview, and I put together a list of all of the questions our editors had in the wake of it. Allegra Kirkland has a full rundown of Giuliani’s claims and the fallout from them in your Weekly Primer on the Russia probe.
  • In addition to Giuliani, Trump has another new lawyer, Emmet Flood. Tierney Sneed runs down where in the past Flood has crossed paths with other lawyers involved in the Trump-Russia probe.
  • The “Deep State”: It may or may not be real, but it will be an issue in this year’s midterms, Josh Marshall writes. I, meanwhile, round up a few things the “Deep State” has been accused of doing lately, such as buying Ben Carson an expensive table.
  • Cameron Joseph writes that GOP candidates who are running for seats in the Senate are tripping over one another to nominate Donald Trump for the Nobel Prize.
  • Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly calls President Trump an idiot. Here are some other things his aides and cabinet secretaries have called him.
  • A CNBC report, suggesting that Mueller is investigating collusion and that Rick Gates and Roger Stone are pivotal characters in this investigation, is a big deal, Josh Marshall writes.
  • Will Mueller subpoena Trump? Tierney Sneed has some key considerations for the special counsel as he weighs this decision.
  • Josh Marshall notes some important discrepancies between the Washington Post and New York Times’ reports on a list of questions that Mueller would like to ask Trump. And though Trump denounced the leak of questions as “disgraceful,” David Kurtz notes that it appeared to come from Trump’s own legal team.
  • On Friday, a federal judge pushed Mueller’s legal team to explain why fraud allegations against Paul Manafort were related to the Russia probe. David Kurtz offers some thoughts on what to make of the hearing, and Caitlin MacNeal, who was at the courthouse, paints a picture of the quirky judge overseeing it.

In 2018, TPM has began awarding its Golden Duke — usually an annual prize — once a week. The honor, named for the scandal-plagued former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, goes to a public figure in the political realm who has distinguished themselves with a display of corruption or general ridiculousness.

This week’s award goes to Rudy Giuliani for reasons that are more or less obvious. The former mayor of New York and presidential candidate hit the airwaves this week to lay out several new facts about the President’s relationship with Michael Cohen — namely, that he knew about and reimbursed Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels. Both the President and Cohen, and then Giuliani himself, subsequently tried to back away from those facts.

“He started yesterday. He’ll get his facts straight,” Trump said, adding, “He’s a great guy.”

Perhaps worse, Giuliani is already behind schedule! Two weeks ago, before his media blitz, Giuliani said he would have Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe wrapped up in “a week or two.”

“I don’t know yet what’s outstanding. But I don’t think it’s going to take more than a week or two to get a resolution. They’re almost there,” he told the New York Post. “I’m going to ask Mueller, ‘What do you need to wrap it up?’”

The timeline appears to be a bit different now. On Wednesday, Giuliani told The Hill that a potential interview between President Trump and the special counsel was still “several weeks away.”

We’re in for more fun. Giuliani appears to be part of a new legal strategy by the President’s team, also indicated by the replacement of lawyer Ty Cobb with Clinton impeachment attorney Emmet Flood, to get more aggressive in its dealings with Mueller.

For making the administration’s public response to the Mueller investigation that much more of a wild ride, Rudy Giuliani is our Duke of the Week.

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Rudy Giuliani’s interview with Sean Hannity last night raised more questions than it answered. Here are a few things our editorial team is wondering about this morning:

  • What else did President Trump’s “retainer” payments to Michael Cohen cover?
  • What communications did Cohen and Trump have about the original payment to Stormy Daniels? And about the retainer payments later?
  • What documents does Giuliani have that show the purpose and nature of the payments from Trump to Cohen?
  • Can Cohen still be considered Trump’s lawyer, given what we now know about the nature of their work together?
  • If Cohen was being reimbursed by Trump, why did he take out a loan to pay Stormy Daniels?
  • Did Giuliani intentionally reveal what he did in order to get ahead of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, knowing that Mueller has this info already?
  • Was Trump’s legal team actually worried about a potential FEC violation, as Giuliani stated? Or were they more worried about the implications of Trump’s lie about the payments being exposed?
  • Had Cohen been told by Trump that he’d get reimbursed when he made the payment? Or was the reimbursement figured out later?
  • How did Cohen’s growing estrangement from Trump after November 2016 factor into Trump’s payments to Cohen?
  • When exactly did Trump’s payments to Cohen begin, and when did they end?