Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader PB flags how back in 2017 Betsy DeVos had a slightly different take on the Special Olympics. “I am proud to stand beside you as a partner in support of Special Olympics and its Unified Champion Schools, an important program that promotes leadership and empowers students to be agents of change.”

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A former federal prosecutor has some thoughts on the Barr Gambit …

A few thoughts on the Barr Gambit, which I think will go down as a singular achievement in the annals of intellectual dishonesty and bad faith legal jujitsu:

1. It is undisputed that the Russian government brazenly interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump. In so doing, the Russians and those acting on their behalf committed a variety of federal crimes including computer hacking and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Those crimes were committed to benefit (a) Vladimir Putin and the interests of the Russian government; and (b) Donald J. Trump. It is also undisputed that Trump and his campaign joyfully used and weaponized the information the Russians stole against Hillary Clinton. Trump personally trumpeted the Wikileaks disclosures 141 times during the campaign, and his surrogates countless more times. While Mueller’s team apparently “did not establish” (i.e., did not find enough evidence to charge criminally) that Trump personally conspired with the Russian government to commit the underlying crimes, there is no question that he was (along with Putin) the single biggest beneficiary of those criminal efforts.

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We’ve just received reports that the Mueller Report runs over 300 pages. (Note that this likely does not include underlying evidence produced in the investigation.) A rule of thumb is that a single spaced page includes roughly 500 words; double spaced about 250. Let’s split the different and say 375 words per page and let’s assume it’s only 300 pages. That comes out to 112,500 words, a decent sized non-fiction book. Just now I scanned through the Barr Letter and from what I can tell it includes 65 words from the report. In other words, we have currently seen .057% of the Mueller Report.

Note: There’s a footnote which may include an additional 15 words. This will amount to a game-changing .07% of the report we’ve seen.

Late Update Two: Now CNN reports it’s 300-400 pages “not counting exhibits”. So this thing is frigging long. And all we have is between 65 and 80 words.

First, I want to thank Jeet Heer for filling in for me while I was away. Thank you as well to our New York and DC teams. I would call out specific highlights. But I made an especial effort to wall myself off from everything tied to my cacophonous news life while I was away. My comments on the Mueller Report were a brief exception given what seemed to me the unique nature of the news.

In any case, it’s clear we are in the midst of a massive bum’s rush spearheaded by what should be the notorious Barr letter. I explained some of what seem to me the details here. Others here at TPM and elsewhere have too. We have a letter written by an AG specifically appointed to clean up if not cover up the Mueller findings. It gives the President a clean bill of health based on a narrow claim that there was insufficient evidence to establish a crime in the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. Because of this, per Barr’s argument, the idea that Trump could have obstructed Justice in the course of his cover-up was all but a legal impossibility.

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I don’t know if it’s the distance, literal or metaphorical. But from that distance I’ve marvelled at how ingenuous and pliable so many media voices have been in the face of spin that was entirely predictable. The Times has been among the most credulous, more or less taking at face value the Barr/Trump claim of blanket exoneration. Interestingly, Roll Call has been among the most cautious and focused. But most of the mainstream outlets have taken the Barr letter almost entirely at face value, a decision that seemed ill-considered yesterday and even more so today.

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I’m still away for a few more days. But given the gravity of the moment I wanted to share a few thoughts on Attorney General Barr’s letter to Congress. First, we need to see the report, even if it includes redactions. For now we can only react on the basis of the assumption that Barr’s letter is not willfully misleading or deceptive about what Mueller’s report says. I assume it puts the best face on things. Indeed, this is clear on its face. The report includes either directly or by implication all the bombshells in the various indictments and charging materials. Barr looked at those and said done and done. Time to move on. But again, we can say the following on the assumption that Barr’s letter is broadly accurate on its specific points.

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So, people. I’m going to be heading out for a bit. I’ll probably post my last post sometime this afternoon. I need some time off – to relax, recharge, spend as much time off the grid as I’m capable of. It’s been a grueling period. So I’m eager to disappear into my books, recharge and get ready for the next things. Our team will keep you up to speed on all the critical stories in my absence. I’ve invited Jeet Heer to take up my duties in the Editor’s Blog while I’m away.

Many of you likely know Jeet from his prolific Twitter account and work at The New Republic. If you’re not familiar with him you can listen to this podcast discussion we had back in December.

Have a great week.

In response to this post of mine on Beto O’Rourke from March 14th, Marc Hetherington wrote this response. Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler are the authors of this ground-breaking study, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics.

You might not be thinking about Beto’s potential base of support the right way. Those of us who follow politics closely always tend to think about the world in terms of ideology. But decades of research in political science suggests that most Americans do not think in ideological terms.

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I don’t know how many of you saw it. But over the weekend Beto O’Rourke got asked about his first day fundraising haul and said something to effect that he declined to give exact numbers. That certainly made it sound like he’d come up significantly short. Hard to see how this wasn’t a clever way to lower expectations ahead of today’s eye-popping announcement. He raised more than any other Democratic presidential candidate on their first day, which is certainly impressive.

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This Washington Post oped by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) addresses a number of foreign policy topics. But the most detailed portion is about Israel-Palestine. It is actually a quite conventional and strong statement of the center-left two-state approach. It’s one I support and a great number of American Jews do as well. Whether it’s a majority or not really gets down to a level of detail she doesn’t address. But that’s really not the point. Read it through and you can see it is a very carefully considered and worded take, addressing a number of different audiences at once.