Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I’ve been thinking about President Trump’s comments to George Stephanopoulos. Why did he say that? That he would do that doesn’t surprise me. But why would he say it?

One part of it is probably the most innocent explanation (everything is relative). For Trump to say he would not work with a foreign government against his domestic political enemies would suggest that he or his family members or staffers did something wrong in 2016. Maybe they didn’t commit a crime. Maybe they didn’t “collude”, whatever that means. But to say he wouldn’t do this in 2020 would be to concede what he has never conceded and cannot concede but which likely strikes most of us as obvious: he and his campaign did something deeply wrong by welcoming and making use of damaging information from a foreign adversary state.

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Trump tells Poland’s rightist/authoritarian President: “Much of the media unfortunately in this country is corrupt. I have to tell you that, Mr. President.”

Earlier Trump commented on protests in Hong Kong: “I hope that it all works out for China and for Hong Kong … I hope that they can work it out with China.”

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Quinnipiac has new poll data about impeachment out today. It shows among other things the public has pretty different takes on the presidency than what is treated largely as a given within elite opinion.

One big takeaway is that the public does not support impeaching the President: 61% to 33% say Congress should not begin the process of impeaching the President. That obviously includes lots of Republicans who are firmly against it. Democrats support it, unsurprisingly, but there’s significant opposition even there. 62% of Democrats favor but 31% oppose. African-Americans are the only demographic group that supports impeachment, 63% to 31%.

But that’s not the whole story. American voters overwhelmingly believe a sitting President should be able to face criminal charges while he or she serves as President, just like every other American.

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President Trump is still angry about the prospect of impeachment. But he’s apparently intrigued with the idea that the battle might actually help boost his approval numbers as it did President Clinton more than 20 years ago. As you know, I think impeaching the President now is unwise, but not because I think or fear that it will boost him politically. We can’t know the future. But the notion that getting impeached will somehow help Trump is mainly based on poor memories or in some cases no memories of just what happened back in 1998. More than poor memories, it’s tied to many people’s inability to grapple with how badly they got the Starr investigation wrong.

Let’s review some history.

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Here’s a fascinating and disturbing part of Trump’s impromptu presser early this afternoon. It got less play than the Biden trash talk or the Mexico “secret agreement.” You had to know the backstory, which I didn’t, to even understand what was being said. Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam was a CIA source. This Kim was assassinated by poison in 2017 in Malaysia, by all accounts by the North Korean government. He had lived in exile for a number of years. Trump got asked about this and he responded by pledging to Kim Jong Un that he would not allow the CIA to spy in this way “under my auspices.”

In essence he was pledging not to spy on North Korea and arguably apologizing for whatever relationship the CIA had with Kim Jon Nam.

Video after the jump …

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Earlier this morning I published some reader emails and my own commentary about the electability issue. As I noted here, to me the other candidates besides Biden need to show over the remainder of 2019 that they’re strong candidates against Donald Trump. In an email I hadn’t published yet, TPM Reader MO wrote, “I’m happy to grab some popcorn and watch for the next six months for any of these candidates to prove themselves as Trump-beaters. So far only Biden is making the case.” That’s where I am. But a new Quinnipiac Poll just came out which may start to change the equation. Biden is still the strongest contender against Trump. But the others are beating him pretty handily too.

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President Trump is being pressed to back up claims he has a secret agreement for Mexico to buy billions of additional American agricultural goods, a claim Mexico denies. Here he holds up a blank piece of paper to prove the secret agreement exists.

Trump later explained that the secret deal “goes into effect when I want it to.”

Here’s my other thought on Joe Biden and the broader Democratic primary race.

I’m happy to have the nominee be Joe Biden. I’m happy to have it be one of the other candidates. There are some who are in the race as basically a joke – members of the House unable to crack .5% etc. – but there are lots of good people. What does matter a whole lot to me is that it’s someone who looks like a strong candidate against President Trump. Right now at least polls show Biden is clearly the strongest candidate against Trump. He’s usually several points ahead of Trump nationally and in key states – significantly stronger than the others.

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TPM Reader CR is baffled at what people’s problem is about Joe Biden’s comments on Republicans. I will say I both get why people are going bonkers and also don’t think it is a big deal – unless it’s actually Biden’s political take on the current situation.

What’s weird is that past comments suggest it’s not. Back under Obama he was saying over and over: this isn’t the old GOP we could negotiate with. The reality is it’s a solid general election message and my assumption/hope is that that’s why Biden’s saying it and that he wants (for good reasons) to shift now to a general election posture. My concern is that he might believe it.

Here’s CR’s take …

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