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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

After the Stuart Restoration, Charles II sought to loosen his dependence on Parliament by among other things receiving subsidies (large cash payments) from Louis XIV, King of France. The ability to supply tax revenue for impoverished Kings is basically the root of all parliamentary power in what is now the United Kingdom. At the time the King being in the pay of a foreign King wasn’t without controversy. But it didn’t seem absurd on its face, as it would to us today, because in many ways the theory was that the King owned the country.

There were limits on his power – the key one being that he could only properly fund his government with taxes from parliament. And that gave Parliament critical leverage. But the King owned his power. His sovereignty and the bundle of powers he used to enforce it were his. Any sense of what was in the public interest or his personal interest was an irrelevancy or not even entirely comprehensible because again, he was King. He didn’t just have the powers. He owned them. In a sense he owned the whole country.

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I cannot recommend this morning’s exclusive from Josh Kovensky strongly enough. It’s a complicated enough story that it is hard to capture briefly. But in sum, there’s a whole half of the Trump/Giuliani collusion campaign in Ukraine that barely anyone has scratched the surface of and Josh has the story. The key theme of Giuliani’s trips has been looking for crooks in Ukraine trying to keep out of jail either in Ukraine or the U.S. and offering them protection if they’ll intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. We’ve heard a lot about Dmitry Firtash, the oligarch who’s funded and organized much of the effort, and the corrupt former prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. But equally involved has been Ihor Kolomoisky, one of the country’s other top five oligarchs and widely seen — at least until recently — as Zelensky’s patron. The same pattern, facing charges in the U.S., hiring another high-powered Trump-aligned attorney, trying to make nice with Trump by using American intermediaries to make accusations against the Bidens. An amazing story. Read it here.

TPM Reader LB takes us down memory lane. And he’s right. We’re talking now about Rep. Duncan Hunter and his imminent resignation from Congress in the wake of his guilty plea to federal campaign finance charges. But Rep. Hunter inherited the seat from his dad Duncan Hunter, Sr. Pops Hunter never got indicted but he was notoriously crooked and came close to getting pulled down in the wake of the Duke Cunningham scandal back in 2005/2006. (There was a crew of this Southern California GOP Reps who all had problems on the criming front.) Let’s hear from LB

John Light mentioned in this morning’s email that the Golden Duke awards are coming soon. It reminded me of the blatantly corrupt Randy “Duke” Cunningham, from whom the Dukes got their name, The blatancy of the corruption included the shopping price list of how much it would cost to bribe him. Bigger the favor, the higher the cost.

That led me to remember that Duke’s best friend in the House was another name that has been prominent in the news the last several months, Duncan Hunter, although right name, wrong person. Of course the elder Duncan Hunter, best friend of Duke Cunningham, is the father of Duncan Hunter, Jr., who just plead guilty to stealing campaign funds for his personal use (Turns out the pet rabbit liked flying in first class. Who knew?). I used to be in that district, but was saved with the redrawing of the maps in 2010, putting me in a safe Democratic district, with Susan Davis as our rep. (She announced her retirement a few months ago. But, it’s a safe Democratic District, so I don’t think it goes to red.)

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I was watching the cable shows yesterday afternoon and the constant refrain was infighting among House Democrats over whether to ‘go big’ on impeachment or keep articles narrowly focused on Ukraine. I know this is a basic question being debated. I don’t know how acrimonious it really is. But I did spend some time last week familiarizing myself with the thinking of those on the Hill who want a more expanded approach. And at least as presented it made a fair amount of sense to me, both substantively and politically.

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Here’s a heads up on something. There are a number of questions about what kind of articles of impeachment will be voted against President Trump and what wrongdoing they will cover. But it’s generally assumed that we know the relevant facts those articles will be based on. Don’t be so sure.

The actual articles, the report that goes with it and the evidence presented at a Senate trial will likely contain at least one pretty substantial surprise – and not a good one for President Trump.

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I’ve seldom considered a public question in which the two possible answers both seem quite so compelling and convincing as this one. Late last month I said I had grave misgivings about ending the Impeachment inquiry, as the House appears intent on doing, without having deposed any of the key players in the scandal. The list is long: Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton in addition to as many as a dozen others. Stopping here seems crazy on several fronts: There are numerous key questions that remain unanswered. There are dimensions of wrongdoing that remain all but unexplored – side rackets pursued by Rudy Giuliani, his hustler pals Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas and others. These unknowns appear to contain at least substantial venal corruption, likely subversion of US foreign policy and even possible subversion by foreign nation states.

For all of these reasons, ones that are both substantive and narrowly political, it seems crazy to leave these questions unanswered. And yet I think they should. People talk about whether the Democrats should go small or go big. I think it’s more whether they should go fast or go slow. (After all, it’s easy enough to add on an obstruction article based on the Mueller Report. The work is already done.) I think they’re right to go fast, even as I agree that the arguments to the contrary are powerful and compelling.

Here are my four reasons.

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Did Sheldon make a big purchase? From TPM Reader AM

I’d written you previously about Pompeo’s likely senate run. Just reading that piece in McClatchy now about the warchest he’s amassing and the outreach he’s doing to megadonors and this caught my eye:

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I just heard — to my great chagrin and distress — one of my favorite CNN hosts say “clearly President Trump doesn’t think he did anything wrong.” Not only is this not “clear,” it is almost certainly false. We shouldn’t say this because it’s not true. He certainly knows he did something wrong. He simply doesn’t care.

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Here’s a helpful article by Philip Bump in the Post.

Bump takes the GOP claims of Ukraine election interference at face value and looks at what they amount to. As he shows pretty clearly, even taken on their face the alleged evidence is basically absurd. It amounts to information coming out of Ukraine – not by the government – about Paul Manafort’s criminal activities and the fact that a few government officials said negative things about Trump on social media, largely in reaction to Trump’s saying Russia was entitled to annex Crimea.

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