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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

A number of Republican senators and not a few commentators are now putting forward the argument that calling John Bolton to testify is a waste of time because the White House would bog the question down for months in the Courts. This is a bogus line of argument for two crystal clear reasons I want to briefly explain. It’s not a bad argument, it’s a fake one. It doesn’t exist.

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While the drama of the impeachment trial continues, we have a surge of new polling data. The Democratic primaries are generating a lot of new data. But I want to focus for the moment on the general election, impeachment and the President’s approval.

Two things are happening, which may seem to be inconsistent, but likely are not. The first is that impeachment and removal from office is getting more popular. Indeed, 538’s average of polls which focus specifically on impeachment and/or removal from office has now moved to just over 50% — 50.8% as of this morning.

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The New York Times is reporting that John Bolton recently began circulating the manuscript of this forthcoming book to associates in D.C. Critically, he also sent a copy to the White House for a pre-publication review. (In theory that is to review it for any classified information.) In it Bolton reportedly writes that in August 2019 President Trump told him he wanted to continue holding up military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine relented and helped with investigations into Joe Biden and other Democrats.

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I didn’t see any of yesterday’s final closing arguments live. I was at an NYPD precinct filling out police reports with a gaggle of middle schoolers. (Long story; everyone and everything is fine.) So I got home at about 1 a.m. or 1:30 a.m. to this flurry of puffed up outrage about heads on pikes. It took me a bit to get a handle on exactly what had happened and what the pretended outrage was even about. You probably knew all those details already, quite possibly before I did.

But let’s step back from the clamor and nonsense to understand this.

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News is out this morning that there’s a tape recording of President Trump ordering the firing of Marie Yovanovitch. On its face this doesn’t tell us dramatically more than we already know. The April 2018 dinner in question, where Lev Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman met the President, has been reported on extensively. Even the gist of the conversation has been reported.

Obviously the existence of a tape adds some punch and drama. But that’s not the real significance.

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I’m late to this. But yes, at Davos yesterday President Trumped bragged that he can’t be convicted because his team is withholding all the incriminating evidence.

Much of what we’re hearing in these impeachment arguments against the President really is repetitive. We’ve heard most of it in conversations going back months and in testimony from late last year. But there are key parts, especially in Chairman Schiff’s discussions, which are new or clarifying.

One of the key examples is the issue of the President departing from “US policy” or his prepared talking points in discussions with foreign leaders. This point often did get muddled in the hearings late last year – at least muddled enough to give some opening for tendentious arguments from the President’s defenders.

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I haven’t had a lot to add through hours of these House Manager impeachment arguments. But right now I’m watching Adam Schiff and well … he’s making a really convincing, damning set of arguments about all the accusations the President’s lawyers are denying while they simultaneously refuse to release records which would quickly confirm and refute those accusations. These are cases in which we know there are contemporaneous notes or other records. The answers are there. But they refuse to release them. It is a damning indictment not only of the President but even more his Senate accomplices.

The President is stonewalling and his Senate accomplices are backing him up. They’re supposed to be jurors but they want to help him keep the proof secret. There’s really nothing else to say.

This is how to do it: make clear that it is the Senate Republican caucus which is on trial and act accordingly.

Everything today is impeachment. We sit here listening to Adam Schiff make the House’s opening statement. But even with that I want to flag your attention to this story about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the hacking of Jeff Bezos’s cell phone.

At one level it is a tabloid story. Bezos’s phone was allegedly hacked and the hackers discovered evidence of an affair. Evidence was later shared with The National Enquirer. They published it. Bezos’s was embarrassed and he and his wife announced they were divorcing.

But this is a much, much bigger deal than the marital embarrassment of the richest man in the world.

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