Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Articles by Josh

One of the in-process leaks from today’s closed door testimony on Capitol Hill is that Bill Taylor, acting Ambassador to Ukraine, said that military aid shipments were made contingent on a public declaration to investigate the Bidens and 2016 election conspiracy theories. This was pretty clearly discussed and confirmed in those text messages which ex-envoy Kurt Volker turned over to Congress earlier this month. (Impeachment investigators later released them to the public). But there’s a key wrinkle of this part of the story that is important to absorb.

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I want to make sure you don’t miss this piece. As Josh Kovensky explains, we now have several overlapping pieces of information that strongly suggest that Rudy Giuliani and his two now-indicted associates were oligarch shopping in their plan to bring down the Bidens. Dmitry Firtash, the indicted oligarch fighting extradition to the US, seems to have come into the picture relatively late. They were seemingly going from one oligarch to the next trying to find one who would be their juice in Ukraine and help manufacture damaging information about the Biden family.

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As many longterm TPM Readers know, Elizabeth Warren has a history with this site. Soon after TPM had raised a lot of ruckus over President Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security in late 2004 and early 2005, Warren and her law students approached me about setting a short term blog to advocate against the bankruptcy bill then moving through Congress. That led to the creation of the TPM Bankruptcy Bill Blog, which launched on March 6th 2005. A few months later when we launched TPMCafe we made it a standing proposition as Warren Reports, which ran from 2005 to 2008 when Warren was preparing to enter the Obama administration.

We’re going to be republishing all of Warren’s posts since they are newly relevant as she moves into front runner status in the Democratic presidential nomination. Our team has been working on that project in the background. But last night I went back into my email from the period to remind myself of the precise order of events.

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A reminder that some critical news emerged Friday. Bloomberg published a report that appears to confirm what many have suspected: that Rudy Giuliani and President Trump had teamed up with the notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash to manufacture damaging allegations on the Biden family. Indeed, at least part of Giuliani’s anti-Biden campaign appears to have been bankrolled by Firtash, who has been living in exile in Austria for the last five years fighting extradition to the United States on bribery charges. (Josh Kovensky has an excellent backgrounder here on Firtash’s role in all this.)

The deal, as described by Bloomberg, was Firtash used his network in Ukraine to come up with dirt on Biden and Giuliani and Co would use their juice with Trump and the Barr DOJ to drop the corruption charges against Firtash.

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These are all real quotes from the pool report filed just moments ago.

On whistleblower:
“Do we have to protect a whistleblower who gives a false account? I don’t know. You tell me.”
“It’s possibly Schiff.”
“Why didn’t he say he met with the whistleblower.”

“I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too.”
“I have to fight off these lowlifes at the same time I’m negotiating these deals.”

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I know this is the first thing we learned about Trump. It’s obvious, ingrained, just basic to his whole personality. But it is still remarkable the degree to which at least half of Trump’s emotional life seems based on anger at close advisors and associates who are unable to clean up his messes to his own standards and satisfaction. Sometimes perhaps a staffer is hapless. But in virtually every case it is simply that his own actions make clean ups close to impossible. It is just a remarkable, beyond-caricature example of absent self-awareness, entitlement and, yes, narcissism.

One quick observation. We’ve now seen President Trump green light a Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria and then (perhaps?) try to undo it after it was too late to undo it. He decided to feather his own nest by hosting the G-7 at his Doral golf resort (a guaranteed political firestorm) before reversing course after roughly 48 hours. It is probably fair to say that both – though especially the first – have garnered Trump more criticism from Republicans than the Ukraine extortion plot that is all but certain to get him impeached. This all fits a pattern: under threat over probable impeachment and at least conceivable removal from office Trump is lashing out right and left in efforts to demonstrate power and dominance and succeeding mainly in further eroding his political support.

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And there it is, the other quid pro quo. Notorious Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash would help Rudy and DiGenova and Toensing cook up dirt on Joe Biden. In return, they’d work with Trump to get US corruption charges against Firtash tossed. Firtash has been fighting extradition to the US on federal corruption charges since 2014.

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