Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader ML says the spectacle and process of impeachment is the point …

I have to believe there is a “failure to communicate” when it comes to your views on impeachment and mine. You write that impeachment is silly and a waste of time; at the same time, you advocate aggressive investigations of the president and his administration. The point is not to prevail in impeachment – we assume the senate wont convict. But that doesn’t make the process irrelevant.

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As usual, TPM Readers followed up with a flood of smart and often heated emails in response to my post yesterday on impeachment. I’m going to publish a number of them today and respond serially to points I should expand on or clarify as well as address new ones. The note below from TPM Reader JC gets into the point of just what we’re talking about when we talk about impeachment. I’ll address that and another point first.

Let me start with a concession. Yesterday I referred to moving immediately to impeachment as “silly” and “a waste of time”. Unsurprisingly this focused a lot of people’s attention. I took this as hyperbole. But it doesn’t give the seriousness of the question its due. Nor does it help persuade anyone to belittle something they feel so strongly about. Equally important, I’m not against impeachment. I simply think it’s a weapon that is more powerful in reserve than in use, at least until there’s more than a non-trivial or even conceivable chance of Trump being removed from office.

Now on to the question JC raises. Relatively few people I talk to say House Democrats should vote articles of impeachment literally today. In most cases they mean starting an impeachment inquiry today, which they argue will strengthen the House’s hands before the courts (I think this is wrong), up the ante politically, focus the public’s attention and is just the right thing to do. At some level the argument is, why not? You advance the ball and don’t have to really commit to anything.

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I continue to believe, more strongly than you can imagine, that impeaching President Trump is silly and a waste of time. That’s not because I think the politics are bad, as people always seem to assume when you say you don’t support an immediate move toward impeachment. I simply think it doesn’t accomplish anything. So it really doesn’t matter what the politics are. The only real question to me is whether Democrats succeed in their real shot at ending Trump’s presidency, which is in November 2020. It’s an existential challenge for the whole country.

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The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom created a minor stir a few days ago when he said the NHS (the British national health care service) would be “on the table” in a trade negotiation between the US and the UK after Britain leaves the EU. President Trump just got asked about this and confirmed it. But it wasn’t clear that he knew what the NHS is.

Please don’t miss this report from Kate Riga about some disturbing events in the New York City area. We heard about this over the weekend. A notorious anti-Semite who we’ve somewhat awkwardly referred to as a ‘holocaust distorter’ was scheduled to speak at a number of Catholic churches in the greater New York area this week. We refer to Ewa Kurek as a ‘distorter’ because, in a twist, she does not so much deny the Holocaust happened as she claims the Jews were complicit in the Holocaust and even its organizers. Kurek is a bonafide credentialed historian. An April article in Tablet referred to her as “maybe the only legitimate Holocaust scholar to have become an alleged Holocaust revisionist or distorter during a later phase of her career.” Two of the events were canceled today after a group of concerned citizens wrote to the Bishop of Brooklyn asking him to cancel the events.

This is part of a larger story I touched on back in early April. Back then I wrote a series of posts about an anti-Semitic Polish nationalist rally in New York City. The focus was on a new US law aimed at restitution for Holocaust victims. It’s become a lightning rod for Polish nationalists both in Poland and the US, spawning protests which range from vaguely anti-Semitic to extremely anti-Semitic. Kurek’s tour is part of that same agitation. The whole upsurge is at one level triggered by this controversy. But watching it it’s clear it’s dredged up attitudes and hostilities that seem unbroken going back 70 or 80 years. Here’s Kate’s report.

Like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones more than half a century ago, the milk shaking craze has finally crossed the Atlantic. Rep. Matt Gaetz got milkshaked. It started a few weeks ago when Tommy Robinson got milkshaked in Warrington by a man named Danyaal Mahmud. Robinson is a UK version of what we call the alt-right in the US – all the same mix of anti-immigrants, white nationalist politics combined with various kinds of “free speech” preening. (His real name is actually Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon.) It quickly expanded to other rightist figures like Nigel Farage and soon enough left wing activists were bringing either milkshakes to rallies to troll far right figures or even symbolic, effigy milkshakes like this woman below.

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TPM Reader GB isn’t satisfied with the Mueller explanations …

I enjoyed hearing the perspective from the TPM reader who had worked with Mueller and many members of his team, and don’t doubt that he would have much greater insight into the people involved than I do.

But looking from the outside, I wonder if it’s possible that Mueller wasn’t snookered at all (at least in the sense of being surprised) by how Barr handled things, and that maybe people who (for other, often quite valid reasons) want or hope to see evidence supporting impeachment may be projecting onto Mueller their own preferences and biases.

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30 members shy of 30,000 total.

I’ve wondered about this a bunch myself. Barr’s bad faith was telegraphed far in advance. Why’d Mueller and his lawyers allow themselves to get snookered? Initials of TPM Reader withheld …

I have known and worked with Mueller and many of the folks over the course of the last quarter century.

[REDACTED: Discussion of TPM Reader’s professional working relationships at DOJ with various top lawyers involved in the larger Russia probe and Special Counsel investigation.]

They’re all great and careful lawyers. I don’t disagree with the bottom line that given DoJ policy and the Special Counsel regs, they could lay out evidence of Trump’s crime but not accuse him or formally recommend impeachment.

That said, I’m surprised they didn’t anticipate the kind of bad faith snookering we’re now seeing from Barr. They had every reason to know, based on his history and the public record of how he became AG, that he wouldn’t serve as an honest gatekeeper for their report. And they had a perfectly plausible opportunity to preempt his manipulation.

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We just recorded a new episode of the podcast with Mike Isikoff and Dan Klaidman of Yahoo News and the Skullduggery podcast. (Should drop late this afternoon or early evening.) We mainly talked about the Russia probe, looking back to the second half of 2016, what was known then, how reporting on the dossier looks in retrospect. But we also talked about the recent faux-controversy with Rashida Tlaib because it was based on comments she made on their podcast. And we got some interesting backstory on how it unfolded and how and why it exploded as a story.

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