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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

It now seems increasingly clear – because of the lack of any credible alternative explanation – that the White House is trying to squeeze AT&T because of the President’s vendetta against CNN. Rupert Murdoch’s role in the story is just the latest new development. But there’s something else I wanted to share, courtesy of a lawyer friend.

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Just to state it explicitly, there is absolutely no way Roy Moore is going to sue the Washington Post over their reporting on his dating teenagers when he was in his early thirties. This is likely obvious to most. But I wanted to make it clear in case there’s any question. As a public figure, the standard Moore would have to meet to sustain a suit is all be impossible. Particularly, as a candidate in a major election, his behavior is inherently newsworthy and closest to the more civically important forms of speech. Even if you assume for the sake of conversation that all the accusers are lying, that wouldn’t be enough for Moore to win a suit. Since he is a public figure he would have to show actual malice in the Post’s reporting. That essentially means that the Post knew the allegations were false or had a reckless disregard for the truth, simply didn’t care. The depth of the sourcing which is visible in the story makes that all but impossible. Moore knows all this. This is just a way to signal to low information voters or ones desperate to believe him that he’s fighting the charges rather than admitting their truth. He’s not suing anyone.

I spent a bit of Friday afternoon watching an interview the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin did with Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T. I was watching because of my deep interest in what is happening with the Trump Justice Department and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Stephenson was very careful not to touch Trump’s potential role in this – unsurprisingly. Ross Sorkin wasn’t that aggressive in pressing. The weirdness confirms me in what I wrote here (sub req).

But there’s something else that came up that I wanted to flag.

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Celebrate TPM’s 17th Anniversary by signing up for TPM Prime. No, really! Sign up. And yes, it’s our 17th anniversary, which is somewhat amazing. Another great way to celebrate is checking out our four current job listings: Senior Editor, Prime Editor, Assistant Editor and Investigations Desk Reporter.

Fascinating piece here in the Times applying some Times level sleuthing to shed more light on those Papadopoulos court documents from last week. We get some idea of the backstory of Joseph Mifsud, apparently a failing and shambling academic career that was on its final skid when Russians showed up in 2014 with money and newfound respectability, an old story. Other gaps of the story are filled in. But the big one is Stephen Miller.

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I’m getting a lot of new information about the AT&T/Time Warner acquisition and what the Trump White House is up to. If you know things, please contact me at our comment email address under our logo. I can also provide secure means of communication.

A lot of Flynn threads are emerging in rapid succession that suggests a much broader and wilder universe of criminal wrongdoing. Here’s my backgrounder (sub req) on what might be coming.

We’re at the end of a long week. But I want to flag a flurry of stories I suspect are adding up to something bigger.

Mike Flynn was negotiating a deal with Turkish interests to kidnap a US resident alien and deliver him back to Turkey for $15 million. Mueller is looking at this.

Cambridge Analytica reached out to Julian Assange looking for Clinton campaign emails right at the time they signed on to work for Trump.

Mueller is now probing a pre-election meeting between Flynn and pro-Russian Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). This new thread seems to connect to possible issues with Russia rather than Turkey. Possibly, it connects the two. Rohrabacher has openly been pushing Russia’s case in Washington. He’s also been in active contact with Assange.

There have already been published reports that Mueller believes he has more than enough to indict Flynn and likely also Flynn’s son. All of these threads together suggest a much broader range of wrongdoing than we had understood until now. A key point is that it seems to mix clearly criminal activity, perhaps working with people tied to the Russian government, and a more mundane push to bag as much money as possible. As we’ve discussed, spies look for crooks. They can both be bought and blackmailed, a powerful combination.

I think we know Paul Manafort. He’s a money guy and a crook. Fundamentally he’s no mystery to me. We know the type. Flynn remains far more opaque. The mix of a distinguished career in Army intelligence followed by what many see as a dramatic turn in outlook and behavior. Some who know him think he was always like that. The chain of command made it less visible. It came into its own when he got an executive command. Or maybe something changed. He seems like a true believer when it comes to a certain vision of the Middle East. He’s also clearly very corrupt. I think we know who Paul Manafort is. At least speaking for myself, I don’t think I know who Mike Flynn is.

Final point: Paul Manafort was apparently involved with numerous acts of money laundering, non-registration as a foreign agent and more. Flynn’s activities seem much further out on the edge. Kidnapping? Very convoluted freelancing tied to various countries in the Middle East? Still opaque connections with Russia? In the middle of last year, Flynn cowrote a book with Michael Ledeen. If you don’t know that name he was a key player in the Iran-Contra scandal and what you might call Washington’s avatar of illegal foreign policy freelancing, Middle East region conspiracy theories and more. He’s also a lifelong student of and devotee of Italian fascism. He’s quite a piece of work. A lot of this stuff is wild enough to have a Michael Ledeen feel to it. Keep an eye out for whether his name bubbles up in this. I suspect it will.

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As I mentioned Thursday, we have four open positions we are currently hiring for at TPM, one an existing but vacant position and three new positions: Senior Editor, Prime Editor, Assistant Editor and a third reporter to join our Investigations Desk team. Today we’re posting our listing for our Assistant Editor position.

Listing after the jump.

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