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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Yesterday I posted this lengthy post about a critical shortcoming in the 2016 election IG Report. Despite specifically being to requested to address the issue, Inspector General Horowitz basically ignored lots of evidence about bias against Secretary Clinton. Indeed, he didn’t so much ignore evidence as ignore the question itself, specifically about anti-Clinton sentiment in the FBI’s New York field office and specifically whether the fear of leaks out of that office was the driver of the October 28th Comey letter which clearly damaged Clinton significantly in the final days of the campaign. It turns out that I simply missed some of the clearest evidence for that anti-Clinton bias in the report itself.

Before looking at that, let’s address another point. The IG Report is in a sense of a masterpiece bureaucratic document. If the effort were to hide evidence of bias out of the New York field office it does a poor job. It simply draws no inferences from that evidence. So, for instance, much of the report is framed around examining whether pretty good evidence of hostility toward candidate Trump (though by no means only Trump) affected the actions of lead agent Peter Strzok. But whether the abundant evidence of bias and actions by those hostile to candidate Clinton had an effect is just passed over.

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A few weeks ago I explained in a post that the reason the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails was so freely publicized in 2016 while the Russia probe remained firmly under wraps was, paradoxically, precisely because it was an essential political and procedural probe. Indeed, this was understood by all involved. Yet this false equation of the two investigations remains embedded in the Inspector General’s report itself. Indeed, the IG Report is at war with itself at various points about the nature of the investigation and whether the recovery of the Weiner/Abedin emails in late September 2016 did or should have mattered.

The Inspector General was troubled by the fact that the FBI was prioritizing the Russia probe in the fall of 2016 over the Clinton email probe. The key passage comes on page 329 of the report where the Inspector General writes that in light of Strzok and Page’s texts showing hostility to Donald Trump, “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

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In light of the fact that the Inspector General’s report ignored the questions about anti-Clinton bias in the FBI’s New York field office and questions about whether Comey’s actions were driven by fears of leaks from that same office, this seems highly relevant. Last night on Fox News, Rep. Devin Nunes explained that in late September 2016, “good FBI agents” came to him and told him they’d found the Weiner laptop with Huma Abedin’s emails with Secretary Clinton.

Note that the reference to late September 2016 makes it clear that the agents in question basically went to Nunes and other Capitol Hill Republicans immediately after they found the laptop.

I wanted to share some background information on just what’s happening with Michael Cohen. CNN is reporting that Michael Cohen is now telling family and friends that he’s open to cooperating with prosecutors. This follows ABC’s report from a couple days ago, and joins other subsequent reporting that paints an amorphous yet generally consistent picture of a man getting ready to become a cooperating witness. But there are some additional details that are important to understand.

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The government has recovered 731 pages of encrypted text messages from the devices seized from Michael Cohen – from WhatsApp and Signal. They’ve also reassembled 16 pages of documents from inside Cohen’s paper shredder. (Paper Shredder best practices fail.) They’re still working on one of the Blackberries they seized.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s lawyer, apparently felt it was necessary to explicitly reassure Paul Manafort that a pardon could be in the cards for him after he was sent to jail today.

Sometimes it is important to step back and see the larger picture. On Fox News this morning, President Trump called the former leadership of the FBI “scum.” The former deputy director of the FBI, a longterm target of the President, has already been fired and seems to be in legitimate danger of being charged with crimes. Peter Strzok, the former high-ranking FBI Counter-Intelligence agent with the texts, is now likely to be fired, according to press reports this morning. Last night on Sean Hannity’s show, the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that to “redeem” themselves Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions had one week to jail Strzok.

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President Trump: “Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” Video.

This evening on Sean Hannity’s program Rudy Giuliani demanded that Robert Mueller suspend his investigation and then said that Sessions and Rosenstein had one day to “redeem” themselves by ending Mueller’s probe and jailing FBI agent Peter Strzok. This is the President’s lead lawyer.

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