Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

We need to zero in on this critical point. “Acting” cabinet secretaries are commonplace. They’re standard when someone resigns or leaves office without a confirmed replacement. Presidents have not infrequently used so-called recess appointments to install cabinet secretaries who could not get Senate confirmation or couldn’t even receive a vote — though the courts have now greatly restricted that power. Indeed, the Vacancies Act does give the President the power under certain circumstances to sidestep the ordinary order of succession in a department to make other people the “acting” secretary. But what happened yesterday is different from all those cases. This is perhaps the first time when a President has installed a cabinet secretary without senate confirmation for the specific purpose of committing a corrupt act.

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Just to catch you up, after President Trump’s tantrum performance yesterday and the exchange with Jim Acosta, Sarah Sanders last night accused Acosta of inappropriately touching a young female intern, as a way of upping the ante in another of the White House’s victim gambits. This was followed by revoking Acosta’s access to the White House. Half in jest I put together a close up of the video to illustrate how preposterous the whole thing was. Sanders later shared a doctored clip of the incident which was apparently produced by Infowars, the white supremacist conspiracy site, to further the smear. At a minimum, the doctored video was shared by Infowars a couple hours before it was distributed by the White House.

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TPM Reader AF puts together the pieces …

You must be aware of this CNN article but there’s even a more direct connection between Clovis and Whitaker getting this job than what you stated in your last post:

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When asked if the new acting AG is now in charge of the Mueller probe a DOJ spokeswoman said: “The Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.” So the answer is yes.

We’re still trying to get a clear sense of the legal mechanics of Sessions de facto firing. There are legal particulars about the President’s powers depending on whether a cabinet secretary resigns or is fired. What seems clear is that this is the beginning move in ending the Mueller probe or, at least for now, putting it under the control of a Trump loyalist who is on the record saying that he believes the investigation is in fact illegitimate. The White House knows Mueller’s office is or was about to come out of pre-election hibernation and likely move to a series of new indictments.

We need to remember the context. The President and members of his entourage conspired with a foreign power to ascend to the presidency and has spent the bulk of his two years in office trying to evade the law. Rod Rosenstein had been suggesting to some of his more apolitical colleagues at the DOJ that they should be prepared for dramatic changes in leadership in the first days of November.

Here’s a key moment when President Trump said the press “is a very divisive thing for this country.”