Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The Louisville Courier Journal first reported last night that a GOP-aligned PR firm run (along with two other partners) by a paid CNN commentator, Scott Jennings, was the outfit behind the published testimonial of Nick Sandmann, the high school junior got into that stand-off with Native American activist Nathan Phillips in DC on Friday. But there’s more! Jennings was also a key player in the US Attorney firing scandal way back when. Here’s a search for Scott Jennings and ‘Iglesias’, the last name of the New Mexico US Attorney he was instrumental in firing for not pushing enough bogus voter fraud cases. There’s like a million stories from the 2007 to 2009 era from various TPM elders like Zack Roth, Kate Klonick, Paul Kiel and even me.

Here’s the passage in Isaac Chotiner’s New Yorker interview with Rudy Giuliani that we’ll inevitably all be talking about tomorrow (emphasis added) …

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Over the last couple days I’ve been watching the unfolding reaction and re-reactions to the video of the confrontation between Native American activist and elder Nathan Phillips and a crowd of high school students from Covington, Kentucky on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The whole story is a good example of how we can react quickly to a zoomed in (both literally and metaphorically) video and miss a lot of what led up to it, as well as some key context. With that said, though, when you add all the context I’m not sure it’s all that different from what it looked like on the first go, despite some now saying the new evidence and new videos change everything.

Saturday night and into Sunday I watched numerous different videos of the encounter itself and what led up to it. So let me give you my impression of what happened as well as links to videos and accounts which can help you come to your own conclusions.

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We’re just a short time away from introducing Prime AF, our new Ad Free version of Prime. I want to thank all our current Prime subscribers who’ve asked to be notified when Prime AF is ready. So far that number is just under 3,000 subscribers out of our total of just under 30,000. That’s a great start. If you’re one of those 3,000 subscribers you will get an email as soon Prime AF is ready, along with instructions on how to upgrade and get a special discount if you sign before the end of January.

If you’re an existing Prime subscriber, I hope you’ll consider upgrading to Prime AF. Upgrade for no ads. Upgrade for the faster site. Upgrade because it’s critical to the future of our operation.

If you’d like to be emailed when you can sign up just click the thumbs up icon at the bottom of this post.

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Seemingly using the opportunity of the disputed Buzzfeed story, Rudy Giuliani is now conceding a maximal version of President Trump’s attempts to get a multi-hundred million dollar payday from Vladimir Putin for the length of the 2016 presidential campaign. Giuliani quotes Trump saying that negotiations for the Moscow Trump Tower deal were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”

During the time Trump was singing Putin’s praises on the campaign trail and getting Putin’s help with hacking and information campaigns, Putin was dangling a few hundred million dollars in front of Trump.

I still do not think we have a clear read of just what happened or is happening with that disputed Buzzfeed story about President Trump telling Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. My best guess is that it is some dispute about Trump ‘directing’ Cohen to lie versus simply having him, allowing him to lie, having his lawyers concoct a false story line with Cohen, etc. If you listen to Giuliani’s words today it sounds like he’s trying to pry open the possibility that Trump knew Cohen was telling Congress things we now know were lies but simply didn’t remember or didn’t realize they were lies. Those can be meaningful distinctions as far as Trump’s criminal liability goes. They are not terribly important distinctions in terms of our getting to the heart of what happened in the 2016 election or Trump’s relationship with Russia. None are as important as what Rudy Giuliani again freely admitted today, which is that throughout 2016 Trump was trying to finalize a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow from which he believed he’d reap hundreds of millions in profits over the coming years.

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This survey is now closed. The link to the survey has been removed and the original post is in italics below.

Could you answer four quick book questions for me? Super simple. Literally four questions. Takes under a minute. It’s some information that would be helpful for a few projects we’re considering, still very much in the brainstorming phase. Just click here. Thanks.

I closed this survey after we got over 6,000 responses. First, thank you to everyone who took a moment to fill out the survey. The results are fascinating to me and very helpful. I’m sharing the results after the jump.

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The Buzzfeed brouhaha and the Mueller denial recall a basic point. Our most critical national and civic need is to find out the truth of what happened in the 2016 election and who President Trump really works for today. That imperative is far more important than whether any individual person or group of individuals is incarcerated or otherwise punished for crimes. But that is not the purpose of the Mueller probe. It never has been. The Special Counsel investigation is a criminal and counter-intelligence investigation. Its goal is to find out whether crimes were committed and to prosecute them.

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The Special Counsel’s Office has just released an almost unprecedented statement disputing at least parts of the Buzzfeed story that has roiled the national political discussion for the last twenty four hours. The statement is as follows: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

The first thing to note here is that I don’t think the Mueller office has ever issued a statement like this. They hardly ever say anything at all beyond terse and procedural statements about court cases. I cannot recollect any other time when they’ve publicly disputed a story. If it’s happened once or twice, it’s extremely rare.

The other point to note is that this is not a blanket refutation of the story. The statement is carefully worded and disputes “description[s] of specific statements” and the “characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office.” It’s possible to interpret this as disputing specific subsidiary points in the story, while leaving the central claims intact. But that seems like a stretch.

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I want to discuss some details in the background of that new Buzzfeed reporting about Trump, Cohen and the Trump Tower Moscow deal. It’s more a matter of deduction, inference and some speculation. But you can’t understand what’s happening between Trump and Cohen without this part of the story.

As noted in last night’s post, the most logical source of this story is federal law enforcement centered out of New York City. But Michael Cohen also appears to be talking extensively to congressional investigators. In any case, President Trump obviously knows whatever it is he himself did. He doesn’t need to hear about it from Buzzfeed or sources on Capitol Hill. For all these reasons, President Trump clearly has a lot to fear from Michael Cohen, about topics that go far beyond the details of his hush money payments and campaign finance law violations. Trump wants to punish Cohen and shut him up.

Next consider that ABC News reported yesterday that Cohen was thinking of rolling back his congressional testimony because he feared President Trump’s escalating attacks are endangering his family. I checked in on this and Cohen’s worries seem to be two-tiered. One is the standard and understandable fear that the President’s railing could trigger some unhinged person to do something violent and rash. But it’s hard to figure where Trump’s comments are more likely to do that this week than they were last week or last month. The other concern – I suspect the driving concern – is that Cohen worries that Trump is trying to endanger his family, specifically his father-in-law, either legally or through violence.

This requires closer attention.

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