Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

If you missed it last night in the run up to the speech, please take a moment to read my backgrounder post about the Inspector General’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton emails probe in 2016. Big picture: what began as a probe into James Comey’s at best botched final-week intervention into the campaign appears to have been repurposed into a probe into whether the FBI didn’t intervene enough. It’s like entering bizarro world. Very troubling stuff. Take a look (Prime access).

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What to make of this speech? I found it fairly conventional as Trump speeches go. In fact, in structural terms it was pretty conventional in general terms too. The first half of the speech – as I noted below – was a fairly standard recitation of President Trump’s goals and accomplishments aimed mainly at his core supporters and mainly focused on economic issues. At the level of structure, it was much like many State of the Union addresses in recent decades.

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10:29 PM: This is fun. Quick TPM staff takes on the speech. Check it out.

10:04 PM: This is a completely false statement: “The third pillar ends the Visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people.”

9:55 PM: This was likely the peak trolling portion of the speech. “My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”

9:52 PM: Pretty straightforward message here: we need to radically reduce immigration into the United States – both legal and illegal – because if we don’t innocent children will be murdered.

9:50 PM: Now we’re at the part of the speech where we have a ritual incitement against undocumented immigrants through the recitation of a horrific murder. All evidence shows that the native born commit crimes of violence at higher rates than immigrants, legal and undocumented.

9:47 PM: Lord, this picture …

during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. width=

9:42 PM: “Our nation has lost its wealth, but we’re getting it back so fast.”

9:41 PM: In this speech so far, we have the standard Trumpian invocations of reverence for soldiers and police officers as expressed by reverence for the flag as the pinnacle of what it means to be an American. I’ll come back to that. I think it’s a critically important issue to discuss. But the speech itself, the structure and tone, seems quite conventional – a recitation of goals and accomplishments aimed at supporters.

This is a wild, amazing story. The head of LULAC, the Latino civil rights group, sent President Trump a letter basically endorsing Trump’s immigration plan. Apparently no one else in the organization, not staff or the board, had any idea what he was doing. Alice Ollstein has the story.

One notable thing is that at least as of a few minutes ago, the White House had not released an embargoed version of the speech. That means that in most cases even though the text doesn’t get posted all the anchors and reporters know what’s coming. The point of the speech is to create some sense of drama and anticipation, whether the President is normal or not. So leaving some surprises actually makes a lot of sense. Of course, there’s the danger there could be some terrible, dangerous surprises. So who knows?

The new developments in the McCabe story look like they’re moving in a very, very dark direction. We’ve heard murmurings over the last 24 hours that McCabe’s sudden departure from the FBI might be tied to an ongoing Justice Department Inspector General’s probe. Just this hour the Post published a story giving us our first clear understanding of what this is about. Big picture: the decisions about how to handle those Huma Abedin emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign now appear to be in the process of being repurposed as bad acts on the part of Andrew McCabe. A bit bigger picture: the Comey Letter, which roiled the campaign during its final week and has the best argument to be the single event which turned the course of the election, now appears to be in the process of being repurposed as a way to discredit the FBI and provide President Trump cover on the Russia probe.

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There were hints earlier today that President Trump was going to have something ‘surprising’ about North Korea in the State of the Union and that it might be surprising on the conciliatory side. That would be surprising. More recent reports suggest that Trump will make some dramatically confrontational statement on the topic, which is of course very bad but not terribly surprising.

Now comes word that the proposed Ambassador the White House announced late last year, to generally positive response, won’t be nominated after all. He didn’t toe the White House’s antic, war-mongering line. So he’s out.

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Here’s another one of those developments which is both jaw-dropping and somehow entirely predictable. You’ve likely seen the reports that the Trump administration violated the spirit though probably not the letter of the new Russia sanctions law by simply deciding not to impose any sanctions. But the law also mandated that the administration produce a list of “senior political figures and oligarchs” in Russia. These individuals were not to be sanctioned themselves. But the list is meant to impose some stigma and, more importantly, serve as an implicit signal about which individuals might be sanctioned in the future.

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